JAMES: THE IMPLANTED WORD is our Term 1, 2013 Preaching Series. Listen to James sermons here.
If you’ve ever read through the book of James before, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a little different to the other books in the New Testament. It’s got a different “flavour” and style that’s unlike any others. There’s a bunch of different topics covered, seemingly unrelated – for example, trials and temptations, being “do-ers” of the word, faith and deeds, the dangers of the tongue, wisdom, patience and prayer. It’s been described by some as, “the Proverbs of the New Testament”.
However, most recently, as I’ve read through James again, I’ve seen that these topics were not unrelated or random at all. In fact, the thing that stuck out for me was James’ concern about seeing people grow in Christian maturity. It raises the question, how important is your own Christian maturity to you? How serious are you about growing as a Christian and shaping your life to reflect that of the Lord Jesus’ life? God willing, reading James will help us with that this term.
James, of course, is called James because a bloke called James wrote it – fairly simple, right? What’s not so simple is which James wrote it as there’s at least three different men called James in the New Testament. However, as we look a little closer, it becomes clear that James, the brother of Jesus, was the author of this letter (the main reason this is widely accepted is that the two other James’ died shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and would not have had the time to write a letter like this). For some, the thought that Jesus had siblings is one they’ve been taught not to believe, however, we rely on the scriptures and not tradition. Mark’s Gospel sheds light on this for us as he recounts the amazement of the people as they listen to the teaching and witness the miracles of Jesus…
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:2-3)
What does become surprising, however, is what James thought of Jesus. If you go back a few chapters in Mark’s Gospel you’ll notice that James thought that Jesus was a little crazy….
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20-21)
But his opinion of his brother certainly changed when James met the risen Lord Jesus as recorded for us by the Apostle Paul (1 Cor 15:7). It was from this point that James was a transformed man who went on to become a great leader in the early church. A leader who was concerned about the scattered brothers and sisters (James 1:1) and seeing them grow in spiritual maturity, shaping them to be like their Lord Jesus and growing in their trust and devotion to him.
Our prayer is that we, too, will grow in our own spiritual maturity this term as we dig into God’s word in the book of James.