We have reviewed James the son of Zebedee and brother of John, but there’s another James among the first 12 disciples of Jesus- James the son of Alphaeus. Another James, the brother of Jesus wrote the Book of James in Scripture.
James, son of Alphaeus, also known as James the less because of how little is written of him is listed in every account of the twelve disciples in the Bible.
“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelvethat they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter),James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” Mark 3:13-19
According to history James preached all the way to southern Egypt and there was crucified because he would not deny Jesus as the Messiah. You might expect me to write about humility and how being one of the 12 and yet so little known would show us that Jesus accepts us all, no matter our personalities, and no matter how little or how much recognition we receive on earth. And that’s a good message. James, the brother of Jesus, said that if we humble ourselves then God will lift us up in due time and that if we draw near to Him then He will draw near to us. It’s true, humility is a wonderful characteristic that is very Christ-like and holy. But I’m not being led in the direction to write about humility.
I want to write about discipleship. James, son of Alphaeus, reminds me that following Jesus is about being a disciple, not about praise and glamor. It’s not a matter of how many you preach to or how much money you give to the poor. Being a disciple of Jesus is about the heart. Have you given your heart to Jesus? In other words, have you not just declared Him as Lord, but have you also given yourself to Him? You see, discipleship is teaching, training, and maturing someone as a pupil, an epigone, and a friend even. Jesus discipled these 12 men by being their friend, teaching them, and living life as an example to them. Even though the life of James and his ministry is obscure, we know Jesus chose him and he followed. He was a friend of Jesus, a testimony and a student.
Am I a friend of Jesus? Yes. I am a friend of His even when I don’t ‘feel’ like it. I am a disciple of Jesus because I have made Him Lord over me. I belong to Him. I am His student and His adopted brother.
I could absolutely do more as one of His disciples to learn and mature in His likeness… and I aim to. I can study the Word of God more. I can worship more and I can share the Gospel more. I can learn more from Christian mentors and Christian friends who teach me about Jesus and the character of God. But doing more doesn’t make me a greater disciple. The sign of sincerity and maturity is surrender, not work. I must fully surrender every night to the glory of God as a friend of Jesus, my Savior.
“Whether you realize it or not, you have a sphere of influence that you impact on a regular basis. Rise up & be the influence they need.” Andrew Wommack
As well, I think about how important it is to disciple others, that’s the whole point of Matthew 18:19-20 where Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” I don’t want disciples of my own, but I need to have friends and people close to me that I can teach whether with words or through my living. I must point them to Jesus and help them mature as His disciples, to show them how to ‘crucify’ the flesh (deny our sinful wants) and obey the Spirit (who is our Teacher.) No matter who you are, you also have the calling and ability to disciple others for the glory of our Jesus.
‘Lord, I don’t ask that you make me a greater or even a better disciple. I’m just so glad I am yours. If it be your will, send me others who I can minister to by being an example to them and helping them mature in you. In all I do, I pray you are glorified. You are my friend, my Savior, and my Lord; my life, along with my heart, belongs to you.”