John 7:5 “Even his brothers did not believe in Him.”
It has been over 2 months since, 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It is summer and folks are ready for vacations. But with inflation at a 40-year high and gas nearing $5 per gallon nationally, many are “staycationing” this year. The Resurrection is an afterthought. But not 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.
Back then, the disciples have been with the risen Jesus and are spreading His resurrection openly in Jerusalem, even under threat of death: “The Jews commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge. But we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
The Gospels and the book of Acts are filled with records of eyewitnesses to the resurrection. This is the power of the Christian worldview. Christianity is the only worldview that does not require you to put your faith in what someone else SAID, but instead requires you to put your faith in what other people SAW. It is evidence-based.
Another piece of evidence to examine is the transformed life of James, the half-brother of Jesus. James at first thought Jesus was crazy when He proclaimed Himself to be Messiah: “When His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said ‘He is out of His mind.’” (Mark 3:21). In John chapter 7, John opens with the story of the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah by James and the rest of Jesus’s brothers.
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews’ Feat of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” (John 7:1-5). Not a very impressive Messiah figure – He can’t even get His own brothers to vouch for Him. Just as Isaiah prophesied in 730BC, He is rejected and alone (Isaiah 53:3).
But would you believe in your brother if he claimed to be God’s Messiah? When James saw Jesus crucified, it only enforced that He was a pretender. But we do have two independent sources for Jesus’s brothers rejecting Him – the Gospels of John and Mark. By historical standards, that is strong evidence that this really happened.
But it’s embarrassing evidence. The early church would not add James’s rejection of Jesus if their goal were to create a “legend” of Jesus as Messiah. This gives zero credibility to Jesus and the church. It’s embarrassing to Christianity. The only credible explanation is that James’ initial rejection of his half-brother is an historical fact.
But 2 months after Jesus was crucified, James is much different. In Book 20, Chapter 9 of “Antiquities”, Jewish historian Josephus records this: “Ananus assembled the Sanhedrin and brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James: and some others; [or, some of his companions.] And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.”
Hegesippus, a Christian writer of the early church (a convert from Judaism), records in his ‘Hypomnemata’ (‘Memoirs’) these words on James: “James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles… When many of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ. Coming in a body to James they said, ‘We entreat thee, restrain the people; they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ…
They placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him: ‘Thou just one, in whom we ought all to have confidence, forasmuch as the people are led astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus?’ He answered with a loud voice, Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sits in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is to come upon the clouds of heaven.’
They cried out, saying, Oh! oh! the just man is in error.’ So they went up and threw down the just man… They began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall… one of them, who was a fuller, took the club and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom… He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ.” What transformed James from rejecting Jesus to willingly dying for Him?
“Jesus was seen by James, then by all the apostles” (1Corinthians 15:7). Another life transformed by the eyewitness appearance of the risen Christ to him. The evidence for the resurrection is overwhelming.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance _ Article #506