Seeing the Risen Christ.
It is Paul who tells us of this most interesting event (1 Cor. 15: 7). As already stated, we do not know where James was when the Risen Jesus manifested himself to him. Broadus locates the event in Jerusalem after the return from Galilee and before the Ascension. As a matter of fact, it could have been in Galilee perfectly well. James may have come to Jerusalem (Acts 1 : 14) because he had been converted in Galilee. At any rate, "this appearance to James is the only one not made to a known believer." But Dale holds that James had already been converted before his Brother appeared to him, as a result of information from his mother or from the apostles. This is, of course, possible, but it cannot be insisted on as necessary on the ground that Jesus appeared to believers only. The case of Saul refutes that position.
It is quite possible that James may have heard of the report of the Resurrection of Jesus and had thus some preparation for the great event when he saw Jesus risen from the dead. We are told nothing of what passed between the two brothers, but one may be sure that no hard or harsh reproof came from Jesus for the indifference and even scoffing of James.
The brothers of Jesus were children of their age, which was a Pharisaic age in Palestine. The current expectation was for a political Messiah, not a Saviour dying for the sins of the world. Even the Twelve Apostles had not risen to the conception of a spiritual Messiah, and they had given up all hope upon the death of Jesus and had themselves to be convinced of the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus, a task of much difficulty, particularly in the case of Thomas, though they all at first scoffed at the stories of Mary Magdalene and the other women. So, then, the path of James toward faith was not an easy one, but he took it and came boldly out on the side of the disciples of Christ. It is more than likely that it was through James that the other three brothers were led to faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour (Acts i : 14).
The Gospel of the Hebrews as quoted by Jerome (de Viris Illustribus 2) gives a story to the effect that James was already a disciple and present at the last Passover with Jesus and took a vow "that he would not eat bread from that hour on which he had drunk the cup of the Lord till he saw him risen from the dead. Again, a little afterward, the Lord says, Bring a table and bread. Immediately it is added: He took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave it to James the Just, and said to him, My brother, eat the bread; for the Son of Man has risen from the dead." Mayor is inclined to credit this story in part, but surely it utterly misunderstands Luke 22: 18, makes James one of the Twelve, and is impossible from any point of view, since not even the Twelve expected Jesus to rise from the dead. There are difficulties enough connected with the proof of the Resurrection of Jesus without burdening the narrative with this story. But, let me add, modern science has not made faith in the resurrection of Jesus impossible, nor has modern research disposed of the value of the Gospel accounts of this tremendous event. Paul, who testifies to this experience of James, is himself the chief witness to the reality of the fact. This is not the place to enter upon a discussion of this great question, but modern men may and do still believe in the Risen Christ with all simplicity and sincerity.
From Practical and Social Aspects of Christianity - The Wisdom of James by A.T. Robertson, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012. The update is not complete.
Insights of the past for the present
Wisdom of James - A.T. Robertson
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.