Love Your Neighbor
James 2:8-9 NKJV
Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV
Matthew 13:55 NKJV
John 7:5 NKJV
Luke 24:46-47 NKJV
Sometimes I think I must be one of the weirdest people on the planet.
With the exception of my children, people who know me tell me I “overthink” things. Hummm…
Take James’ words in James 2:8 where he wrote, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The whole verse actually says, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well.”
So, I knew that was also said in the Gospels. In Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Here’s where my brain starts spinning.
James was the half brother of Jesus so you would have thought that James looked up to his big brother and followed him around everywhere and wrote down (or memorized) what he said. But he didn’t. History tells us when Jesus was alive, James did not follow him.
James was not one of the 5000 people in the crowd listening to Jesus.
James did not see Jesus heal a blind man.
James was not there when Lazarus walked out of the tomb.
Reportedly, this was the same James mentioned in Matthew 13:55-56: “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”
The people of Nazareth, including members of his family were offended by Him when Jesus was alive, healing, and preaching. In John 7:5 we learn, “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.”
James the brother of Jesus did not turn around and actually SEE who Jesus was until He was crucified, died, was buried, and raised from the dead. As reported in Luke 24:46-47, ““Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” James was not there when Jesus was crucified or when He appeared after the resurrection.
This same James who became head of the church in Jerusalem “did not believe in Him” before the resurrection.
So, James brother of Jesus who (reportedly) wrote the book of James did not hear Jesus speak to the crowd when he said, “you shall love your neighbor as Yourself”.
Where did James hear that phrase?
As we established earlier, James was martyred around 62 AD.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD (https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/stewart_don/faq/historical-accuracy-of-the-bible/question10-when-were-the-gospels-written.cfm).
When James wrote, “love your neighbor as yourself” in verse 8, either he must have read the Gospel message, someone he trusted told him what Jesus said, or the Spirit spoke it to him. However it happened, the phrase became an important part of what James wrote in James 2:9…“but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
Ultimately the miracle here is that even though James the brother of Jesus didn’t follow him before the resurrection, he did a complete about-face after.
James came to a point where he believed his brother Jesus’ words “love your neighbor as yourself”. Because of that, James believed that showing partiality to the rich is a sin.
He WAS really clear on that point.
So, I may overthink, but then again I may just be resolving the cause and effect of the message in my mind because I like to know the reason the words were written.
As I said, I’m just weird that way. ; )
In God, Deborah