In the Gospel text, Saint James is mentioned as one of the brothers of Jesus. It is not terribly important here to debate whether James was a stepbrother or half-brother or cousin of Jesus. The Greek word for "brother" can support all these meanings. But let us set aside this question.
James is not one of the chief actors in the story. The text does not say whether he was present during these events. Instead of being one of the actors, James is an excuse used by the people of Jesus' home town.
James is an excuse - an excuse for unbelief - an excuse for taking offense at Jesus. It is not James' fault that he is used this way. The people use him without his permission.
The people said, "We know this Jesus. He's only the carpenter's boy! We know His mother. We know His brothers and sisters, including James. Where did Jesus get this wise teaching and these powerful miracles?" And they took offense and disbelieved.
These are not good reasons to disbelieve. They should have said, "Look at these miracles! This is more than merely a carpenter's boy. Listen to this teaching! Here is the very Word of God, and the very Wisdom of God." But they did not say this.
How easily the sinful flesh finds excuses to take offense! How easily we can reject the Word of God! "Oh, I know that preacher. He's from California. Why did we get a preacher from California?"
People can take offense because a preacher is from far away just as easily as they can take offense because a preacher is from their own home town.
The real reason is not the excuse. Your flesh is always ready to come up with an excuse to ignore preaching and avoid the Divine Service. But there are no good excuses.
Where the Word of God is, there we should be. For this is where Christ Jesus comes to us with His grace, here in His House where His Word is heard. Let us not take offense, for then we are taking offense at Christ Himself.
Here in His House, He speaks to us His forgiveness. The Son of Mary forgives you all the sins which your flesh has created in you, and all the sins that lurk, unseen and unheard, in your heart.
You were born as children of Adam and Eve, the first sinners. Their iniquity stains everyone. If that were not enough, you have added an abundance of sins of your own. You were born into this sinful family.
But Christ declares to you that His Father in heaven has adopted you into His family. Since Christ came into your human flesh, therefore everything that is His has become yours. His Father has become your Father. For Christ is not merely a carpenter's son, but the Son of the Most High God. Now you are children of the Most High God, through Christ.
To accomplish this, Christ had to take what was yours. He took upon His body all your guilt, and all the offense and unbelief in your sinful flesh. He carried it up to Calvary. He erased it by His Blood, and by His suffering and death.
That is the great and powerful miracle of all miracles Christ has performed. He put to death the flesh of the Son of God for you. God died for sinners. Then He was raised to show you the life He has purchased for you. You also shall be raised to live with Christ forever in the eternal home of His Father. For it is your home now, as He is also your Father.
Here on earth is another powerful miracle. It is really a part of the greatest signs, the Cross and Resurrection. Here on the altar, He gives you His Body and Blood. It is the Body He got from Mary. It is the Blood that He shed on Calvary. It is also the Body and Blood of the Almighty Lord of hosts. This is the great sign on earth that He gives you to eat and drink. As He placed Himself in the midst of His people in Nazareth to give them life and salvation, so He places Himself in your midst today. He gives you life and salvation through this Meal, His powerful miracle today.
Let us take no offense at this Body and Blood. Let us not say, "This is only bread and wine. This is only earthly food." Instead, let us believe His promise to us and believing, receive His incredible gifts here.
In His Name above all names, Jesus Christ, the Lord Jehovah, with the Father and the Spirit, one God. Amen.
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