Have you ever read the book of James straight through? or at least the ending? it seems to have an atypical, abrupt ending. These are the last 7 verses:
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Keep in mind, it's a letter. So, no goodbye, no peace out, no farewell, no see ya on the flipside. Just "whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins."
Beth suggested that perhaps this ending was intentional and personal for the letter's author.
James was Jesus' brother (well, half brother...) Can you imagine being the sibling of Jesus? Talk about the "seemingly" perfect oldest child. Scriptures tell us that Jesus siblings thought he was crazy. More specifically, "OUT OF HIS MIND" (Mark 3:21). Fast forward to the crucifixion. No doubt the siblings would have known He was being crucified, and although they may have thought He was nutso, they likely were still disturbed and devastated. I wonder if there was any regret... like, you think someone is going to live until they're old and gray and your personal issues with them will go away and then before you know it, they die a terrible death at age 33 and you wish you would have said something.
But then, check out 1 Corinthians 15: 4-7
[Christ] was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and 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...
Beth (Moore) taught me that perhaps this might have been the turning point for James. Here he thought Jesus was dead and gone. He would have heard people claim Jesus was God but he also thought his brother was crazy. And he didn't have the scriptural accounts we have today, so he didn't know the end of the story. So, Jesus, (dead and gone in James' mind) APPEARS TO JAMES.
Do you think that maybe James was walking along, going to the market or something when he heard someone call out "James" from behind him? And you know how you can recognize familiar voices even though you can't see the person... well imagine if you heard the voice of someone who was supposed to be dead. That'd sure as heck stop me in my tracks. Then James would have turned around, seen his dear brother who he thought he had heard, and probably have been speechless.
I wonder if that was it. That was James' moment and everything suddenly made sense, and he knew in fact, that Jesus was not a lunatic, but rather, He was who He said He was - the Messiah.
AND furthermore, this Messiah did not condemn James or give him an "I told you so." He didn't spit in James' face or act superior or... all the other things James would have deserved. Rather, He graciously appeared to James and James' eyes were opened.
When you think about it that way, the seemingly abrupt ending of James' letter makes more sense. Read it again:
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
James was a wanderer. and his BROTHER brought him back to the truth. Jesus graciously and lovingly turned James from the error of his way, saved him from death, and covered over his multitude of sins in the ultimate way.
This ending isn't abrupt or weird. It is personal. It's real. It's the most important moment of James' life, and he shares it with his original audience and with us today. As if to say, don't forget you were wandering and someone turned you from the error of your way, saving you from death. Now, do the same for a brother or sister- point them back in the right direction that they may run back home to the sweet embrace of Jesus who is always full of mercy.
Wow. I am in awe.