Which Apostle Had It the Easiest?
Which apostle had it the easiest? James. That answer may be surprising. Even more surprising is why and how.
In Acts 12, James is martyred first among the apostles. Some may question God's fairness, and may even complain, "Why did God allow James to die but allowed Peter to live?" Considering the church was praying for Peter, we can assume they were praying for James too (Acts 12:5). So..."Why did God answer their prayer for Peter but not James?"
Such questions are myopic. We assume what the church was praying for. The early church could have been interceding on behalf of James and Peter in the same unexpected way wherein God answered their prayers with an astounding "yes!" Instead of their release, they could have been praying for James and Peter's strength. They could have been praying for their spiritual safety over their physical safety. Are we too focused on freedom over faithfulness? Is our perception of ease too worldly?
One could say that James' mother had her "prayer" answered, but in a way unexpected. She demanded of Jesus, “Promise,” she said to him, “that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right and the other on your left, in your kingdom" (Matthew 20:20-21). Jesus responded such was not his to give. However, all believers who overcome, though death, sit on the throne with Jesus (Revelation 3:21). James's mother had her prayer answered but in a way never expected. Be careful what you pray for! Answering prayers is God's way of surprising us. When James overcame, though death, he began to sit on Jesus's throne with him! Surprise!
After James was beheaded, he entered into eternal peace first among the apostles. So, which apostle has been the safest and the longest from all harm? Which apostle suffered less than the others? Which apostle has enjoyed the Father's presence the longest? Which apostle was first with Jesus on His throne? James.
Why did James have it the easiest? God allowed James to die. Sitting beside Jesus in eternity, do you think he was complaining about God being unfair? No. Who has enjoyed the ease of peace longer than any of the apostles? James.