Journey Through James #1: The Half Brother of Jesus – #Sermon of the Week


(Beausejour Church – Pastor Chris Jordan)

Journey Through James

To listen to or download the audio MP3, click HERE.


  • Can you imagine what it would have been like to share a bunk bed with Jesus as a kid?
  • When I was a kid, I had two younger sisters, so I never had to share a room with them.
  • Maybe Jesus and his brothers climbed trees, fished and played ball games together.
  • One of Jesus’ brothers wrote a book that we’re going to study for the next two months.


“James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.” (James 1:1, NKJV).

  • The different James’ in the Bible – mentioned 38 times:
    1. One of the 12 disciples: James, the son of Zebedee, brother of John (Matt. 4:21).
    2. Another one of the 12 disciples: James, the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:3).
    3. James, the son of Mary and Joseph, the half-brother of Jesus.
  • “The author identifies himself as James, and he was probably the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem council.” (NASB Study Bible, James: Introduction Notes).
  • “Tradition has ascribed the book to the Lord’s brother, and there is no reason to question this view.” (Spirit Filled Life Bible, The Epistle of James).

THE BIG IDEA: The life of James, the half-brother of Jesus, is a great example for us to follow. Even though initially he didn’t believe in Jesus, he went on to trust Him as Saviour and Lord, and became a passionate, committed disciple of Jesus.


  • Jesus’ brothers thought He was crazy.

“But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind…” Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.”” (Mark 3:21,31-32, NKJV).

  • Jesus’ family thought He had lost His mind because He kept saying He was God.
  • If your brother started saying this, would you be concerned?
  • “Really? I knew he had a high self-esteem, but God? Wow!”
  • We would call this an intervention today! They thought He was crazy.
  • Some of you might think about Jesus the same way His family once did:
    • But they progressed from thinking He was crazy and not believing in Him.
  • Jesus’ brothers were offended by Him.

“Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses (Joseph), Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:3-4).

  • Notice Jesus grew up in a big family – four half-brothers and at least two half-sisters.
  • Side-note: One of his brothers was named Judas: What a bummer for him, hey?
  • Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him:

“Now the Jews’ Feast 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 7:2-5).

  • Jesus did eventually go to the big city where He worked miracles and claim He was God.
  • After this, Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be God. His family was at His funeral. Then He rose from the dead.
  • James saw Jesus raised from the dead:

“After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.” (1 Cor. 15:7).

  • After this, James became a faithful follower of Jesus and a leader in His church.
  • The life of James after the resurrection is one of the greatest testimonies to the reality of Jesus’ having been raised from the dead.
  • James was a leader in the Early Church:

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” (Acts 1:14).

  • James and his brothers and mother knew all about Jesus. If they didn’t really believe He was God, they wouldn’t have been a part of the 120 in the early church!
  • Jesus’ brother Jude also became a leader in the church: “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James…” (Jude 1:1a).
  • Jesus’ brothers James and Jude both became powerful pastors and leaders in the church.
  • In Acts 15, they had a major council meeting at the church in Jerusalem:
  • The issue: “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.” (Acts 15:1-2).
  • The response: “Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me.” (Acts 15:12-13).
  • James said, “Listen to me!” and Peter, Paul and Barnabas all listened to him.
  • As we begin this series in the Book of James, I want to challenge you: “Listen to him!”
  • The Apostle Paul said: “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.” (Gal. 1:18-19).


  • James was martyred for his faith in Jesus:
  • Nicknames: James the Just and Camel Knees (from praying a lot!).
  • Death: recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs:

“Of James, the brother of the Lord, we read the following: James, being considered a just and perfect man, governed the church with the apostles… He would enter into the temple alone, fall on his knees, and ask remission for the people, doing this so often that his knees lost their sense of feeling and became hardened, like the knees of a camel. Because of his holy life, James was called “The Just” and “the safeguard of the people.”

When many of their chief men had been converted, the Jews, scribes and Pharisees began to fear that soon all the people would decide to follow Jesus. They met with James, saying, “We beg you to restrain the people, for they believe Jesus as though He were Christ. Persuade those who come to Passover to think correctly about Christ, because they will all listen to you. Stand on the top of the temple so you can be heard by everyone.”

During Passover, the scribes and Pharisees put James on top of the temple, calling out to him, “You just man, whom we all ought to obey, this people is going astray after Jesus, who was crucified.”

And James answered, “Why do you ask me of Jesus the Son of Man? He sits at the right hand of the Most High. And shall come in the clouds of heaven.”

Hearing this, many in the crowd were persuaded and glorified God, crying, “Hosanna to the Son of David.”

Then the scribes realized they had done the wrong thing by allowed James to testimony of Christ. They cried out, “Oh, this just man is seduced, too!” then went up and threw James off the temple.

But James wasn’t killed by the fall. He turned, fell on his knees and called, “O Lord God, Father, I beg You to forgive them, for they know not what they do!”

They decided to stone James, but a priest said to them, “What! What are you doing? The just man is praying for you!” But one of the men there – a fuller – took the instrument he used to beat cloth, and hit James on the head, killing him, and they buried him where he fell. James was a true witness for Christ to the Jews and the Gentiles.” (John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyr’s, Updated and Abridged).


“Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.” But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35).

  • Jesus can become your big brother too if you do what He tells you to do!

Note: Some of the thoughts in this message were inspired by Mark Driscoll.


About Chris Jordan

Husband. Father. Author. Pastor. High School Bible Teacher. Follower of Jesus. And I enjoy a good cup of coffee!
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