I think it's always been in my head that the author of James was James, the brother of John...one of Jesus' disciples that faithfully followed Jesus from the beginning. This James was also the first disciple to be martyred. However that James is not the author of James.
The author of James is James, the half-brother of Jesus, who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, the span of Jesus' earthly ministry. I mean, could you blame him? Buddies and playmates as kids, likely. James, a sin-filled boy, growing up in the shadow of his perfect non-sin-filled older brother Jesus. How many times were the two boys compared? Why can't you be like Jesus?!?! A comment like that would be enough to bring up emotions of anger, defeat, rebellion, resentment, or insecurity. And then, if that weren't enough, when the good older brother is grown, He claims to be the long-awaited Messiah...the Son of God. I imagine James thinking He's taking this self-righteous act too far...the Messiah, come on...if He doesn't shut up soon, He's going to be killed. Which is, of course, what happened.
And yet, Jesus saw something in his younger brother (as He sees in all of us)...a person worth redeeming and a leader in the making. After Jesus' resurrection and before He ascended to Heaven, there is one little line where we must assume that James' life was radically transform:
"...that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles..." I Corinthians 15:4-7, NASB
That's all we are told. Not a single word of their conversation. But what we do get is a small window into James' life after that interaction with Christ. He is transformed from a scoffer of Christ to the head of the Christian church. An amazing transformation...I can't wait to (hopefully) learn more of this story when I get to Heaven. But this whole post is going a direction I didn't necessarily mean... :)
As part of the final lesson for this Bible Study, I was asked to summarize James' life, with one thought or sentence. When you study the book of James', as well as the few snippets of his life through Paul or Luke's books, it becomes quite apparent that his heart is bent for the vulnerable. James' belief is that every Christian should live in such a way that reflects the faith they have in God, which includes caring for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. Anyhow, there was this one great quote that was in my book, written by Melissa Moore Fitzpatrick (Beth Moore's daughter), that I believe summarizes James fairly well:
"We simply cannot be obedient disciples of the Lord Jesus and continue to willingly choose self-indulgence, all the while ignoring the desperate needs of others."
I love this statement. It challenges my relationship with God and with others. May Jesus continue to bend my heart for the vulnerable so that He may use me, as He used His brother James.