Have you ever become convinced something is true, despite your best efforts to deny it?
I am not talking about being forced or coerced into believing something that is patently untrue. No, I mean where you begin at the place which says, “This cannot be true!” but as the evidence unfolds, it becomes more and more clear it is.
When it came to belief in Jesus, this is exactly the position James, Jesus’ brother, found himself in. He is mentioned by Paul, along with “all the apostles” as among those whom Jesus appeared to, alive.
But James was not always a believer.
John tells us that, along with Jesus’ other brothers, he “did not believe in Him.” (John 7:5).
For some time, he thought Jesus had “lost His mind.” Obviously embarrassed by Jesus, the family confronted Him one day to take Him into protective custody. (Mark 3:21 & 31). This is a significant point because among the Jews, it was considered highly embarrassing for a Rabbi if his family did not accept him. As a writer trying to establish the credentials of Jesus, this is not a fact you would include in your account of His life!
It is clear James was not convinced of the claims Jesus made about Himself.
But look at how his life turned out.
He became a preacher of the Gospel and the leader of the Jerusalem church, he pens a letter in the New Testament which bears his name and history gave him the nickname, “Old camel knees” because of his reputation as a man of prayer. The Jewish historian, Josephus, also tells us that James was stoned to death for his faith, upon the order of Ananias, the High Priest.
What transformed the brother of Jesus from cynic to believer?
Paul provides the only possible answer – “Jesus appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”
For reflection: What is the most difficult thing for you to believe about Jesus? Is it possible you are refusing to believe, despite evidence to the contrary?