James & John - Sons of Thunder

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This week, the final blog for July, I want to look at Apostles James and his brother.  It is the week the church remembers James. Let us use our imagination.  See how it started as Mark 1 tell us…

Jesus Announces the Good News

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” 

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

I wonder what expression Jesus had? Surely, attractive and compelling and of course empowered by the Holy Spirit. James and John were hooked, and off they went. Just think of Jesus bringing this motley group of people together – people that he would need to teach the way to proclaim the incoming kingdom of God that he is setting up, after he’s gone. And these people have their own egos and passions.

Luke 9 continues the story…

46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them[a]?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.

There are three learning points that Jesus teaches them, and us, about his way of doing things – the way of course we are called to follow.

First, there is a lesson about ego. Imagine the boys jockeying for top spot. Jesus discerns and calls them to humility.  Secondly, Jesus teaches a lesson about shared work. Other people on the same side may do things differently, but they are still ‘on the same side’. Collaborative work is so much more powerful than lone working.  Third, contrast the passion of the boys to ‘bomb out the opposition’ with Jesus’ gentle and patient proclaiming the good news wherever he goes.

Let us be encouraged and remind ourselves of 1 Peter 3:15 – I’ll leave you to look that one up!


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