After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.” (Acts: 15:13-14)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. James of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord: What a turn around this guy did! If you read the Gospels you will come upon the occasional instances when Jesus is milling around His home country and His brothers try to stop by for a chat. Now this is not in order to catch up on times gone past, but it is because they think their older brother, Jesus, has gone crazy. And who can blame them? They grew up with this man who is now claiming to be the Messiah. I wouldn’t believe my weirdo brother either.
But at some point after the resurrection, James comes to faith. Paul mentions that Jesus appeared to James just like He did to Paul. And miraculously, James, just like Paul, was converted. Then God used James, this old doubter of His Son, to testify to the truth of His Son in the city of Jerusalem. James is given to be the head of the church in Jerusalem: We might call him a bishop.
His most important point of business is to distinguish between the Gospel unto salvation and those pushing the works of the Law unto salvation. The Circumcision Party had been going around Judea and Galilee and all the known world pushing the works of the Law instead of proclaiming Christ. Their gospel was a gospel of “Make yourself worthy through the works of your hands and then you might be deserving of the things of Jesus.”
But James knew this to be rubbish, for how had he ever made himself worthy of Jesus? James had rejected Jesus throughout his whole earthly life and needed a special post-resurrection appearance in order to believe. There was no way that he was going to ever allow those pushing works-righteousness to obscure the Holy Gospel of Christ crucified. And so James hears Paul’s testimony and the whole council agrees with him and Barnabas: Salvation is open, free and clear to the Gentiles, just as much as it is to the Jews.
It is for James’ stand for the Gospel that we give thanks this day. Christ Jesus is for all and there is no work of the Law needed to make oneself worthy. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
May God bestow on us His grace, With blessings rich provide us; And may the brightness of His face
To life eternal guide us. That we His saving health may know, His gracious will and pleasure, And also to the nations show Christ’s riches without measure And unto God convert them. (“May God Bestow on Us His Grace” LSB 823, st.1)
Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch