Therefore ridding yourself of all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the Word implanted which is able to save your souls (James 1:21).
The book of James is an old friend of mine. I memorized the entire book by the mid-1970s.
I’ve developed a unique way of reading the book (or going over it in my mind as memorized). I begin by thinking that this book is written by James, the Lord’s brother.
My advice: Read this book from the perspective of a brother writing about the life and teachings of his older brother.
The person who knew Jesus the longest on earth (besides Mary) was James.
Jesus and James played together and went to synagogue together. They had a unique relationship. Typically, one sibling can blame the other when things go wrong. But James blaming Jesus?
HHHHMMMHHM… James to Mary, “It was Jesus’ fault.” Jesus was perfect, He couldn’t be blamed.
Can you imagine having a perfect brother? Evidently, James dealt with it because he was a follower of Jesus, the leading elder of the church in Jerusalem, a known prayer warrior, and wrote the book of James.
This illustrates my point in this blog post. Read this epistle thinking, “James was the brother of the Lord. What signs of brotherly respect and love can I find in this book?”
The most important verse in the book of James is chapter one, verse 21. James writes, “… receive the Word implanted.” John wrote in the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God.”
James knew John, and though John wrote his Gospel after James wrote his epistle, they both knew Jesus as the Word. James elaborated this point by saying, “…receive the Word [Jesus] implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
What a testimony from a brother. What do you say about your brothers and sisters?
As you read the book of James, the major themes are joy, worry, hypocrisy, faith and works, controlling the tongue, leadership, confession, healing, and wisdom. These are major teaching themes of Jesus as well. You can see a younger brother emulating his older brother’s thoughts in this epistle.
I think Jesus and James had a lot of fun growing up together. Children often bond through speaking catchphrases known only to them. For example: As a parent, try to read the text messages of your children. You won’t be able to as texting is a hieroglyphic of emojis and collapsed words into letters like – L8R, JK, LMK, and CYA.
The language and teachings of Jesus are embedded throughout the book of James. As James wrote his epistle, he was inspired by years of relationship with his brother.
Some of Jesus’ and James’ common language and images follow:
- James wrote, “…driven and tossed by the sea.” Jesus calmed storms.
- James wrote, “If anyone is a hearer and not a doer…” Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites.
- James wrote, “The tongue is a fire…” Jesus taught that we will be judged for every careless word.
- James wrote, “Come now, you rich people, weep and howl…” Jesus taught that it was hard for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom.
- James wrote, “The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick.” Jesus constantly healed!
There are many images throughout the book of James that reflect the life and teaching of Jesus. As you read the book this week, treat it as a treasure hunt by asking yourself, “What are the common images, phrases, and thoughts between this book and the Gospels?”
Once, an accusation was made against a woman caught in adultery. Jesus wrote in the sand and slowly the accusers left. Afterward, do you think Jesus looked at James and wrote in the sand… “LOL”?
Probably not, as this is my weird sense of humor. But both Jesus and James did use strong imagery:
Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. ~ James (in v. 5:2)
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy. ~ Jesus (in Matthew 6:19)
THX for reading today. My thoughts are IMO… in my opinion. And remember that the book of James is written by the Lord’s brother. A fresh perspective in your reading.