“Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” 1 Corinthians 15:7
Five little words, but, oh my goodness, are they loaded.
James was Jesus’ half brother. The one who was conceived the usual way. There was no special star announcing his birth. No wise men came bearing gifts for James.
James had the perfect older brother in Jesus. I mean, perfect. How does a sibling follow perfection? What was it like growing up in a home with five boys and at least two girls? (“Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” Mark 6:3)
James didn’t sign up to be a disciple of his big brother. He and the other three brothers did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. (“For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” John 7:5) At one point, the family attempted an intervention because they thought Jesus was crazy. (“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” Mark 3:21)
Yet, James was the only person other than Peter who had a one-on-one meeting with Jesus after the resurrection. How kind of Jesus to seek out his closest sibling. What was that conversation like? Did they reminisce? Were there some issues to resolve? Was there reconciliation and rejoicing?
Jesus didn’t write off his younger brother. Jesus went after him. James may have wandered from God’s truth for awhile, but Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, including his brother’s. The rescue was for him, too.
Later, James went on to become a leader in the early church. He wrote a letter full of practical advise about living the Christian life. Just before signing off at the end, James may have reflected back to that private meeting:
“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
The resurrection changed everything,
even Jesus’ little brother.