There is a beautiful disconnect between our aspirations and our reality. We aspire to greatness, to leave a legacy, to make a name for ourselves, and yet humility and service don’t come with glowing awards. Indeed the greatest of saints will probably be people we have never heard the slightest utterance of their deeds, nor whispers of their names.
The lesson of James “the minor”, “the little”, “the lesser”, or “the younger” is probably the most vivid example of this. There must have been a great reason for Jesus to chose this man over the others who accompanied their party, but the reason remains obscured. Little James, perhaps younger, perhaps shorter, was by no means truly ‘lesser’ because his story is untold, it may actually be the case that his contribution was greater, we will never know.
We know so little. There was a James, that was not John’s brother, amongst the 12, all Gospel accounts clearly agree on this. Plus, there were others Jesus could have chosen, for Jesus chose, inferring a larger party. This is confirmed when Judas has exited himself from the picture and the disciples chose a replacement for him. We know that James “the great”, brother to John, was a more compelling figure in the group, indeed that James is part of Jesus’ inner circle… but this James, apart from his name and possibly his fathers, we hear no word.
So why should we take a session of our precious time to study a man who is rather unknown?
Firstly there are 12 disciples, they all deserve our attention. Secondly, if you examine the people you have met in your journeys who have shown Christ to you, will probably find more obscure than famous characters. Thirdly, blank spaces fascinate people, especially children, it lets their imagine come to the foreground.
Do join me in the coming weeks building a session to look at the possibilities, examine the reasons for Jesus choosing 12, imagine the purpose of choosing this James – what did he bring to the table, you never know, perhaps that was his speciality and he was the groups chef?