The goal of this series is to study the group of 12 young men who spent approximately 3 years with Jesus, from the time of his baptism until his resurrection. We’ll look at their character, their transformation, and their relationship with Jesus and learn from their lives.
You can read the full preface to this series to see how I have defined discipleship and see a timeline of how the disciples met Jesus and followed him.
No, Not That James…Or That One!
Just to be clear, we are not talking about:
1. James, the brother of John and the son of Zebedee, who was another of the disciples of Jesus.
2. James, the author of the Book of James, who was the half-brother of Jesus who only professed faith in Christ after Jesus rose from the dead.
3. James Bond!
The James we ARE looking at is the son of Alphaeus.
What Do We Know About James?
James of Alphaeus is named in each listing of the 12 disciples, always appearing as disciple number 9. Interestingly, Matthew (called Levi, the tax collector before becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ), is also identified in Mark 2:14 as the son of Alphaeus, although most scholars doubt he and James were actually brothers as they are never connected in the Gospels.
“James the Less” or “the Little,” helps us distinguish this James from the other James, the son of Zebedee, who was one of Jesus’ inner circle of three. This title could also indicate that James was younger or smaller in stature than Zebedee’s son.
It has been debated which James it was that first witnessed the risen Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:7:
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
The verse from Paul is unclear, though it is an interesting thought. We do know, however, that Jesus prayed about who would become His disciples and James was hand-picked to be a disciple. We also know that James was with the other 11 disciples in the upper room on that historic Pentecost day when the Holy Spirit was released.
Lessons from James
While James is one of the least known of the 12 apostles, we can’t overlook the fact that he was one of the men who sacrificed everything to follow the Jesus. In Luke 18:28, Peter said, “We have left all we had to follow you!” It wasn’t some quick, flaky decision that they made. They literally gave it all, including families, homes, and comforts. They even gave up the familiar teachings of the rabbis to answer Christ’s counter-cultural call.
These regular, Jewish men did great things for God. They followed Christ and formed the foundation of the Christian church. Their sacrifice and love of the Kingdom of God led to a movement that spread across Israel, Rome, and the rest of the world.
The beauty of learning from James is that we can realize that we might also play a lesser role in the Kingdom of God. We may not be the Peter’s and John’s of our time. But that doesn’t make our life any less significant.
Who knows. Maybe the “Lesser James” was an unsung hero of faith! Like James, we do not need to seek recognition or fame.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory …
Find Out More About James
He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Mark 3:16-19)
And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. (Acts 1:13)
Preview of the Next Disciple
I hope this has opened your eyes to the fact that James was a real man. He wasn’t just an obscure character on a few pages of the Bible. He was real and there’s so much we can learn from him.
Next, we will look at Thomas. What do we know about Thomas and what lessons can we learn from his life? You can find out this and much more in the next post.
WAIT! DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT SAYING HI!
Thanks for taking the time to read. Below is a place for you to say hi, what you thought about the post, and ask any questions you may have. And yes, I’ll respond! In fact, I’m looking forward to interacting with you! So what are you waiting for? Leave a comment below!
*For related reading about the disciples/apostles of Jesus, please visit my friend’s page here.
CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE SERIES
Also published on Medium.