I recently started Beth Moore’s new Bible study on James. James is the one of the half brothers of Jesus, and she begins her study looking at how that difficult familial relationship evolved from doubt to faith.
We know from John 7:5 that there were long years when “even his own brothers did not believe in Him.” However, somewhere between his final earthly days and His post resurrection appearances to the disciples, Jesus’ earthly family surrendered their hearts in belief.
Soon after, James became a leader in the growing early church. When Peter was arrested and then freed by an angel from prison in Acts 12:1-17, he instructs those gathered at Mark’s house to tell “James and the brothers about this.”
Beth (we’re on a first name basis) posits what may have been going through James mind when he heard the news about Peter’s deliverance. Keep in mind that James the apostle had already been killed by Herod before Peter was arrested. All this happened around the time of the Passover, and it may have been the first Passover after Jesus was betrayed (the one year anniversary of that event).
This thing we’re doing is deadly. Terrifying. I feel sick. I feel exhilarated. He said not to fear those that can kill only the body. Think past the pain. What about our families? What does all this mean? I feel like hoards of demons have been unleashed on us. There are angels. Real, live angels – and some of them appear in beams of brilliant light. We may be captured, but we may be rescued. We may see horrors, but we may see wonders. We may lose our heads, but we cannot lose our souls. The stakes are up. The fire is lit. It’s time to live like those who cannot die.
She concludes with the thought, “Welcome to the life of those called Christians.” (The believers were first called “Christians” in Antioch – Acts 11:26 – as a derogatory term meaning “little Christs.” This would been an aspersion along the lines of calling them junior messiahs, or saying something like, “They think they’re little gods.”)