In today’s reading, we cover the last part of the Letter of James, 1& 2 Peter and 1,2&3 John. In the early Church, only the Apostle Paul exerted comparable leadership to James (Jesus’ half-brother), and the Apostles’ Peter and John. James, the half-brother of Jesus, became the main leader of the Jerusalem Church after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. This is confirmed by Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived in the first century and also by Scripture itself (Galatians 2:9).
James and the other brothers did not believe in Jesus during His earthly ministry (Mark 3:31-35; John 7:1-5). After Jesus’ ascension, however, we see His brothers in the Upper Room praying with the disciples (Acts 1:14). What effected the change? First Corinthians 15:7 reveals that Jesus appeared to James after His resurrection. This must have convinced James that Jesus was the Savior and Lord of the world. And James must have shared his eyewitness of the resurrected Christ with his brothers.
James was known as a man of prayer who was fearless in witnessing to his fellow Jews that Jesus was the Christ/Messiah long-expected by Israel. Tradition tells us that James was martyred in AD 62. His Letter is a great testimony to James’ commitment to not only being a hearer of the Word but also a doer of the Word (James 1:22).
As we read 1Peter, one is amazed in how the Apostle Peter has been transformed from an impetuous young man as portrayed in the 4 Gospels, to a man who has learned to suffer patiently for the cause of Christ. In 1Peter 4:12-14 we read these words: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” Peter has come a long way from the place where he cut off Malchus’ ear when they came out to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:10). Peter’s closing exhortation in 2Peter 3:18 was for the believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Peter certainly had done that in his life.
May we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus so that those around us may see tangibly the progress of God’s work in us. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John