The Disciple James

Room 201

The panel of James is one of contrast.  Next to the peaceful scene at the bottom, a fiery turbulence explodes into the top of the panel.  This contrast represents James’ life.  He left a rather ordinary life as a fisherman and found instead, a life of energy and zeal that ended in a martyr’s death.

The bottom of the panel depicts the life of a fisherman.  The black posts suggest the pier on which the nets and boats were tied.  The sails were furled and the shades of blue suggest a sense of calm on the lake. James made his living fishing and was no doubt successful in this industry.

Just above this tranquil scene there is a garden tiled in darker shades of green, blue, purple and black.  This was the Garden of Gethsemane where James and the other disciples slept as Jesus agonized over the upcoming events of his death.  It was here, in the garden, where Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father and received strength to complete his mission of the redemption of the world. 

Rising from the trees is the fire that consumed the heart of James as a disciple of Jesus.  The flame reminds us of his zeal in defending the Lord’s honor.  In Luke 9:51-56, when the people of a Samaritan village would not receive Jesus into their town, James and his brother, John, asked “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” Jesus reminded them that his purpose was not to destroy people’s lives, but to save them.

Surrounding the flame are many curved lines.  These lines and the yellow and orange colors create a feeling of turbulence, suggested by Christ’s name for James and John which was the “Sons of Thunder”.  Perhaps it was their zeal for the Lord, ambition for the Kingdom, loudness of voice, or boldness of mind and action which were the characteristics that won the brothers this title.

The Gospel of Mark records a very bold request made by the brothers concerning their heavenly positions.  At the top of the panel there are two smaller thrones.  One located in the right corner and the other in the left.   These thrones are imprinted with the request of the brothers.  They asked, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at you left in your glory.”  James and John failed to recognize that the Kingdom of God had nothing to do with their personal ambitions and glory.  The brothers did nothing to earn such prestige. The gift of heaven is only given to us because Jesus paid our debt of sin through his death and resurrection.

The throne of Christ is displayed with the crown of victory at the top center of the panel.  James recognized that Christ was indeed a ruler in a much broader sense than he had ever imagined. It was because of Christ’s willingness to walk in “our shoes” and take the punishment for our sins that people everywhere could now experience a loving relationship with God.  James’ life was changed since he met Jesus and he was filled with excitement. Church tradition suggests that James brought the message of Jesus to the people in Spain.  The flamboyant lettering used for his name adds to the spirited look of the panel.    May the message of Jesus which inspired James, create in us, an attitude of joy and thanksgiving for all God has done.

Donated by Concordia Cemetery

Last Published: February 19, 2016 11:51 AM
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