Summary: Disciple James
Cowboy 9 James the Muttin Buster
At many rodeos there is an event called “Muttin Bustin.” This event is designed for the little children, usually ages eight and below. The children will ride a sheep similar to a bull rider. The event is a crowd favorite as they watch these little ones compete. In this chapter we will discuss the ninth disciple, James the Less or younger. We do not know much about this James, except he is described as little or younger.
Alphaeus is mentioned in Matthew 10:3 as being the father of James, furthermore in Mark 2:14 he is also identified as being the father of Matthew. If this is the same Alphaeus, this would make James the less and Matthew brothers. This would make sense calling James the less as being younger, possibly being the younger brother of Matthew. According to tradition, even though James the Less clung strongly to Jewish law, he was sentenced to death for having violated the Torah. It is said that James the Less was martyred by crucifixion at the city of Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel. A carpenter’s saw is the symbol associated with him in Christian art because it is also noted that his body was later sawed to pieces.
The Greek word that describes James the Less, in Mark 15:40, is where we get the word for “micro.” It is not clear if James was younger or short in stature. Either way, we will take this chapter and deal with Christ’s statement that we must become like children to enter the kingdom of God.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Before my sermons each week, I do a lesson for the children we call “cow camp”. This lesson usually involves some object which helps to bring a Bible lesson alive. Mathew 18 shows Jesus doing an object lesson for the disciples. He brought a little child in front of them and basically said, “to be with Me, be like this child.” The Bible gives people many non-flattering terms to describe human nature, one is sheep and now Jesus gives another, child. How many times have you been in an argument with your spouse, and she says “would you grow up quit acting like a child!” This statement hurts.
The disciples argued many times about being great in the Kingdom of God. We discussed earlier how the mother of James and John wanted her children to be seated on the right and left of Jesus in His kingdom. Here again the disciples are motivated to be great in the Kingdom of God. Jesus doesn’t rebuke them and tell them to grow up, instead He tells them to grow down. The disciples were so much concerned with the reasons for greatness, but simply for greatness. If I were one of the disciples, I would probably have felt kind of stupid when Jesus used this object lesson. I would be thinking about all the manly things I could do, to be a great man of God. Instead, Jesus tells them to quit acting like grown ups and learn from a child.
Why would Jesus tell the disciples and us to be converted and act like a child in order to become a follower of Christ? Jesus says we must first be converted then become as little children (Matthew 18:3). Notice, if you are only converted but don’t become like a child, you will not enter into God’s kingdom. Furthermore, if you only act like a child without being converted you will not enter into God’s kingdom. We need to take a look at these two commands in more detail primarily because of the emphasis Jesus places upon them with the phrase “by no means.” Jesus is not saying these are suggestions but the very depths of life and death hang on these two commands.
The New King James Version uses the word “convert.” Have you ever traveled to a foreign country and tried to purchase souveniers using US dollars? Most places accept US currency but many places want the currency of their native land. To solve this dilemma, you go to a bank or other institution and convert your dollars to the local currency. Printed money is a promise by a government that they stand behind the stated value printed on the note. There is a relationship between the printed money and the government that issue that money. When using US money in non US countries, many times they do not accept that relationship between the USA and that currency. They desire the relationship of their own government, henceforth your money needs a conversion.