Which Disciple are you Most Like, part 3: James

I know it has been quite a while since I last posted anything on here. I’ve had some transition in my life and have wanted to focus my time and attention on God, my family, and the transitions. There are more transitions to come, which I will eventually share as things get finalized.

But I wanted to pick back up where I left off with the disciples of Christ, who they were, and eventually getting to the point of determining which disciple I see myself most like. If you recall, a couple months ago, I asked a simple question:

Which disciple are you most like?

Of course we all aspire to live like Jesus lived, and so did the disciples. But they were not always Jesus-like. They had their own personalities, their own strengths, and their own baggage.

This week, I want to look at James.

James is a common name in the Bible. There are quite a few running around in there, so it is easy to get confused when people mention the name of James. There is even more confusion inside the disciples because there are actually 2 disciples named James. I will look at them both here.

Luke 6:15 – Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot,

Let’s start with the easier of the two to write about, James the son of Alphaeus. He is also known as James the Lesser (or the James the Younger). When it comes to James the Lesser, there is more speculation than Biblical fact when it comes to his background and his life after the ascension of Jesus.

James the Lesser was the son of Alphaeus (or Cleophas) and Mary and he lived in Galilee.

Mark 15:40 – Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.

James’ father shared the same name as Matthew’s father’s name, Alphaeus, so there is speculation that both James the Lesser and Matthew are related.

The only other information I can find about James the Lesser is that tradition says that he died a martyr and his body was sawed into pieces. This is simply taken from oral tradition, and there is very little written detail about it.

With that, James the Lesser is complete. Since there is little written about him we have very little to go on as far as personality or accomplishments. I have to assume that Jesus chose him as one of the 12 for a reason, we just don’t know what that reason is.

The next James, son of Zebedee, we have a lot more information about. First, he is known to the Catholic church as James the Elder.

James the Elder is the son of Zebedee and Salome. He was a fisherman and was actually called by Jesus when he was on his boat with his dad and brother, another disciple, John.

Matthew 4:21-22 – Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them,and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

James is almost always associated with his brother John. Jesus gave both James and his brother the nickname “Boanerges” which means “sons of thunder.”

Mark 3:17 – James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”),

This gives us some insight into their personalities. They were known for their zeal, passion, and ambition. The other disciples were also not too fond of them for their forwardness as Mark 10:41 tells us.

Then in Luke 9, James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village that refused to welcome Jesus. Jesus immediately rebuked them for wanting to destroy lives instead of saving them.

There aren’t a lot of specifics about James the Elder after Jesus’ resurrection. We know he went fishing and saw another miraculous catch and that he had breakfast with the resurrected Christ on the shore. We also know he was present on the day of Pentecost as shared in Acts 2.

By the time we get to Acts 12, we see the prediction of Jesus come true when James is the first disciple martyred.

The cool thing I like about James the Elder’s story s that it shows that God immediately knows our hearts. He identified him as a “son of thunder” right away. His story also shows God’s patience in our sanctification. It shows that we don’t become immediately sanctified but that it is a process that requires spending time with Christ.

The next post I will focus on James’ brother John.

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