“Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.  And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.”

Acts 12:1-2

He never promised the “Pilgrim Pathway” would be a bed of roses; instead He said it’d be filled with suffering and death (Jn. 16:33; Lk. 9:23-26).

There it is. . .in just 11 words. . .an account of how James, one of the two sons of Zebedee, died:  “With the sword.”  No fanfare.  No lengthy obituary.  No eloquent eulogy.  Just some simple, straightforward words that said “And he died.”

Oh, dear Pilgrim, our lives are truly brief at best when compared to other things in this world (James 4:14).  And, it’s not what we accumulate, who we know or what we achieve that’s matters; what matters is how we “fought the fight, ran the race and if we kept the Faith in the process” (II Tim. 4:7-8).

Interestingly, James’ name is never mentioned in the Scriptures apart from his brother, John, the “one whom Jesus loved” (Jn. 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20).  Like Andrew, who’s always listed after his younger brother, Simon Peter, in the list of the Apostles, it would seem to some that he always had to play second-fiddle to his younger brother.

But, that likely didn’t bother him.

Instead, this “son of thunder” (Mk. 3:17), who’d once wanted to call down fire from Heaven on the unbelieving Samaritan village (Lk. 9:51-56), came to realize that the preeminence in life belongs to the Master, not the servant.  And, even in death—as the first of the Apostles to be martyred—James continued to “rejoice that he was counted worthy to suffer (and even die) for Jesus” (Acts 5:41).

Pity the Pilgrim who believes followers of Christ should be given special treatment or some immunity against suffering.  Instead, we should never be surprised at any ill-treatment we receive—for Jesus Himself told us that such would always be the case when we publicly identify with Him (Jn. 15:18-25).

Yet, in counting the cost to suffer with Him, “enter into the fellowship of His suffering and be made conformable unto His death” (Phil. 3:10b), we should always remember we’re never alone.  Our dear Lord said “I will not leave you comfortless (lit., ‘as orphans’)” (Jn. 14:18).  And, He fulfilled that promise by sending to us “His Holy Spirit. . .the Comforter. . .the Spirit of Truth. . . Who will abide with us forever. . .teach us all things. . .and guide us into all Truth” (Jn. 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:13).

Therefore, do not fear what may come your way or what happens in the world around you.  Instead, stay focused upon “Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith” (Heb. 12:2), knowing that “He Who began a good work in you will continue to perform it until the Day of Jesus’ Return” (Phil. 1:6).  Hallelujah!  Press on, Pilgrim—the Best is yet to be!!!

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated July 22, 2010

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