Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A letter from a slave named James (or ** “Three guys walk into a bar” Choose your title.)

Thursday 12-15-16, Modesto USA 
Today we read James 1 – 5 

S.  James 1:1 This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is written to Jewish Christians scattered among the nations. Greetings!  NLT

O.  Tradition says that this letter was written by James, one of Jesus’ half-brothers, son of Mary and Joseph.** John writes, “… even his own brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:5) However, all this changed after Jesus rose from the dead and was with them for 40 days.  James, the half-brother of Jesus, became a leading authority of the apostolic community centered in Jerusalem. The author of this letter does not brag about his authority. He only identifies himself as a “slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  His credentials are simply that his letter is filled with practical wisdom and was apparently circulated among the house-churches during the early apostolic age.

A.  How should I identify myself as the author of a book or even a short letter? I hesitate to refer to myself as “reverend” since I do not deserve to be “revered”. Maybe I would best call myself a “slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Even that seems to project a sound of authority which I do not deserve.  Just call me Ralph, another tool in Jesus’ carpenter shop.

P.  Lord, keep me as Your useful tool. Please don’t just hang me over there on the wall. Pull me down and sharpen me to be more effective… and use me to make a positive difference in someone’s life.  Amen.

** (I quote an Episcopal priest:) Three guys walk into a bar in Jerusalem. They all have the same name: James. One of them is the son of a fisherman named Zebedee, the other the son of someone we know nothing about named Alphaeus, and the third is known to everyone as “the brother of the Lord.” The Lord, Jesus. They are arguing about who should get the credit for writing a five-page letter making its way from house to house church that believers are calling “The Letter of James.” After a while the bartender is tired of listening to them and says, with the voice of authority, “You guys are nuts. I wrote that letter.” “You? Who are you?” they yell in unison. “Anonymous,” he replies. (William Brosend)
His point is “Who cares which one is the author?  It is filled with practical wisdom, was written early in the apostolic age and was considered authentic and worthy of being included in the biblical canon.” He concludes that he tends to agree with the traditional concept that this is the writing of the half-brother of Jesus Christ, son of Mary and Joseph.

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