We should remind ourselves that in this verse James is referring to one that he had regarded for almost three decades as his brother. In verse 1, James is pleased to refer to lots of brothers (his readers), but he makes a distinction between them and Jesus. He makes them all equal and puts Jesus alone on a pedestal, with the place of Jesus being the highest possible. And he identifies himself with them as brothers, but he portrays himself as a servant of Jesus. So what does he say about Jesus? He says Jesus is ‘our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.’
James stressed a common response to Jesus – we see this in the pronoun ‘our’. It is an amazing description because none of the words he uses about Jesus is unnecessary or an exaggeration. We can see immediately that James had the highest possible estimation of Jesus.
The term ‘lord’ is used twice of Jesus here, but we should note that the second use is not in the original text. Instead the phrase translated as ‘the Lord of glory’ is actually only ‘of glory’, which means that something has to be added. Some versions translate it as ‘our glorious Lord Jesus Christ’ while others insert the word ‘Lord’ a second time. Another suggestion that is made is to translate as ‘our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glory,’ and making the term ‘glory’ a description of his deity. I suspect that is what James is saying, whether we insert ‘the Lord’ in front of it or not.
James makes a contrast between the status of Jesus and the status of an influential person who comes into the gathering of believers. If they gave such an individual the most important place it meant that they were forgetting that there is only one person that has that position in the church – Jesus. Everyone else, whether rich or poor, can only be servants.
I suppose we could ask, ‘Where would Jesus sit if he came in and sat in a gathering?’ Maybe in verses 2-4 James was recalling what he saw Jesus do in the synagogue of Nazareth. The point is that Jesus would never embarrass a believer because of his poverty. He would make no distinctions about those in his presence based merely on social status. Right away we can see that the Christian church is counter cultural. Of course, James is not suggesting that we discriminate against the wealthy. All he is saying is that we remember who Jesus is and then we will treat everyone the same.