Reflections: October 23, 2020

St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr

By Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Acts 15:12-22
Daily Lectionary: 
Deuteronomy 24:10-25:10; Matthew 16:13-28

But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." (Matthew 13:57)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. James, called the "brother" of Jesus, is the author of the epistle that bears his name. He was, as church tradition holds, stoned by the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem.

James was not hated because he was misunderstood. He was hated and put to death because he preached Christ. As long as there are people in the world who think they are good enough NOT to need a Savior, they will prove to God how pious they are by getting rid of the people who teach the true Word of God.

We shouldn't be surprised. Jesus said this would happen. Rather than some easy life full of material comforts, Jesus actually promises that His disciples will have persecution and suffering.

It's no different than what happened to Jesus. James died for the same reason Jesus did. Those who think they were "righteous" got rid of Jesus because He ruined their religion by calling them to repent of trying to save themselves and to trust in Him.

In Holy Baptism you were united to Jesus Christ who was crucified and raised for you. His resurrection is your certain hope that even if the world were to kill you, like it did James, it is not the end.  On the Last Day, the Lord will raise you from the dead and give you everlasting life.

The enemies of Jesus figure that killing Jesus' followers will rid the world of them. But the Gospel continues to be preached, the Spirit continues to call and convert sinners, and Christians continue to die in the hope and assurance that they will be raised from the dead.

Persecution and evil can't defeat Jesus and His Church. The world can take the lives of His beloved sheep, but that's not the end of them. In the end, on the Last Day, the Lord will return and we shall have everlasting life. James knew this. And it is Jesus' promise for all those He has made His own through faith in His blood. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

We sing of James, Christ's brother, Who at Jerusalem Told how God loved the Gentiles And, in Christ, welcomed them. Rejoicing in salvation May we too, by God's grace, Extend Christ's invitation To all the human race. ("By All Your Saints in Warfare" LSB 518, st.27)

-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois. 

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