You and I may have more in common with him than all the other apostles put together; at the very least, I know that I do. The son of Alphaeus was also known as James the Less, so as not to be confused with James the son of Zebedee, brother of the Apostle John. The “lesser” James is named in each gospel listing of the twelve, always appearing ninth in order. He may have been younger or smaller in stature than Zebedee’s son, as indicated by the Greek word ‘mikros,’ from which we derive the English words microscopic, microfilm, etc. Either way, lesser or little, he likely detested any tag line that implied inferiority. Why not James the “one from across town,” or James the “one who hits a ball a country mile”; anything but “shorty.” I can almost hear someone singing, “Short people ain’t got no reason…”
Speaking in first person, the tendency when slandered by others is to retreat into a paralyzing inferiority complex. I threw more than a few pity parties as a child because I was short and frequently bullied at school, resulting in either premature defeat or refusal to attempt anything outside a diminutive comfort zone. Discerning parents helped me grow out of it by encouraging pursuit of passion in areas in which I could excel. When I demonstrated potential in art, Mother supplied me with paper and paints. When I fell in love with sports, Dad began coaching little league and later picked up the game of golf so that we could play it together. They refused to allow me to give up on myself.
Evidently, James, a.k.a. “Shorty”, grew out of his shell too. James the Less was hand-picked by Jesus of Nazareth to be a disciple. Although overshadowed by the more prominent apostles, being named among the Twelve was no small achievement. In addition, he was present with the other apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem after Christ ascended to heaven, and may have been the first disciple to witness the risen Savior, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:7. Jesus refuses to allow us to give up on ourselves. As it turns out, Christ replaces inferiority with grace.
“There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome.” (Mark 15:40 KJV)
“And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.” (Acts 1:13 KJV)
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-7 KJV)