A Closer Look At The Disciples--James and John_ Sons of Thunder by xuyuzhu


									                      A Closer Look At The Disciples
                     James and John, Sons of Thunder

    We have been doing a series where we have been taking a closer look at
the disciples. Last week we focused in on the life of Simon who would
become Peter. Sometimes we see him referred to as Simon Peter. Peter was
a leader and a person of influence within the disciples. But Peter was a
person who was very impulsive, rash and hasty at times. So imagine the
surprise when Jesus meets Simon for the first time and gives him the name
Peter, which also means “rock.” But what we have to realize is that Jesus
saw what Peter could be, not what He was. At the time that Jesus first met
Peter, he was anything but a rock. But Jesus saw a different person. Peter
also had some great moments of faith. Like the time, where for a period of
time he actually walked to Jesus on the water. Then what about when Jesus
asked Peter who he said that He was and Peter said that Jesus was the Christ,
the Son of the Living God. But Peter like many of us, not only had some
great moment of faiths, unfortunately, he also had some real failures. The one
that is most known was when he denied even knowing Jesus on three
separate occasions just like Jesus said he would. Even though Peter said he
would never do that, he said he would die rather than denying Him. Yet,
when the pressure was on Peter denied his Master and his Savior. We know
what it is like to make mistakes and even maybe in some ways to deny our
Lord by our actions. But through it all Peter grew into a person who helped
the early church be such a changing force. It was with the help of the Holy
Spirit that we saw Simon Peter become less Simon and a whole lot more
Peter. God wants to chisel away at our lives as well until we reach what He
knows we can become in Him. God can see us, not as we are, but what we
can become when we yield our lives to Him.
    Tonight we are going to actually look at two disciples at once. They are
brothers, James and John. The most well known of the two is of course John.
However, both are mentioned in scripture quite a bit, and often times it is
together that they are mentioned. The only time James is listed in scripture
without his brother is in the book of Acts when it talks about Him being
martyred. Although we don’t see James name separately much in the
scriptures there are those that think he was a significant figure among the
disciples. In at least a couple of places where the lists of the disciples names
were given his name was listed second, right behind Peter. Some think he
was second to Peter in influence. You will also notice that whenever James
and John are mentioned James name always is listed first which means that
most likely James was the older of the two brothers. You will also notice that
often times they are referred to as the Sons of Zebedee. According to John
MacArthur in his book Twelve Ordinary Men, that they would be referred to
in that way most likely symbolizes that Zebedee was a man of importance.
As we talked about last Wednesday night in Bible study John had connections
to the high priest, that status probably came through his dad. So it sounds
like James and John came from a pretty influential family. Now, most of us
know that Jesus had a group of disciples that He was closer to than the rest.
James and John was a part of Jesus’ inner circle, Peter being the other one.
As James and John walked with Jesus they really learned some lessons about
being a leader for the kingdom.
    “A man, known for his terrible temper, couldn’t get his car started one
cold New England morning. Taking a wrench and lifting up the hood, he tried
to adjust a part that had caused trouble for several days. But no matter what
he did, the engine refused to start. Finally, he stepped back and threw the
wrench full force right into the engine. Of course that didn’t start the car
either. Instead, his temper tantrum resulted in serious damage that required
major repairs.
    Not long after that incident, the man became a Christian. The change,
though not overnight, was unbelievable. He rarely lost his temper, for his
Spirit-empowered self-control usually reflected the gentle nature of Christ.
This same kind of change came over the lives of two of the Twelve, James
and John. They were brothers with such explosive tempers that Jesus
nicknamed them ‘Sons of Boanerges,’ meaning ’Sons of Thunder.’ They
were men of stormy disposition, tempestuous zeal, and fiery spirit. With low
boiling points their ready anger could erupt like a volcano. They have been
described as hotheads who would shoot off their mouths before taking careful
aim. But through their association with the Master, John was transformed in
the apostle of love, and James became the first apostle to be martyred…” (The
Twelve, Leslie Flynn p. 46)
    We see this fiery temper the first time as Jesus was approaching Jerusalem
with his disciples. This would be Jesus’ last trip into Jerusalem as His time
was drawing near.
Luke 9:51-56
    Now one thing that the scriptures make clear is that Jesus was determined
to get to Jerusalem as it says, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Now
the thing is, most Jews went way out of their way to go to Jerusalem rather
than go through a Samaritan village. That was how strong the hate was for
each other. The Samaritans were a mixed race of Jews from the Northern
Kingdom. When Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, the most prominent
and influential people in the tribes were taken into captivity, and the land was
resettled with pagans and foreigners who were loyal to the Assyrian king.
Poor Israelites who remained in the land intermarried with those pagans and
that is how the Samaritans came to be. Now I won’t go into the rest of the
history of how that hate developed and why it was so strong. But the
Samaritans did not hold Jerusalem in high regard at all. They worshipped on
a different mountain because in reality they took the worship of Jehovah and
mixed it with these other pagan religions and what they had was a
smorgasboard religion. They came up with their own place of worship and it
was not Jerusalem. But because Jesus was headed to Jerusalem with His
disciples to worship there the Samaritans were not going to let them through.
When James and John experienced opposition to Jesus’ plan they were ready
to call down fire from heaven and make these Samaritans toast. Jesus was
not pleased with James and John’s response. Matter of fact the scriptures say
that Jesus turned and rebuked them. So the first lesson about leadership that
James and John learned from Jesus is simply this: Real leaders of God
don’t retaliate when they don’t get what they want. Now I think maybe
they took their example from Elijah who called down fire in the book of II
Kings. James and John had a temper and when the plans were blocked that
Jesus wanted them to follow through with, their plan was to eliminate those
who stood in their way. If we are going to be the type of leaders and people
that God wants us to be, we cannot retaliate against those who block what we
think God’s plans are. God’s people are not called to a life of retaliation in
any of our relationships. It was Jesus who said in Matthew 5:39 “But I tell
you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek,
turn to him the other also.” In Romans 12:19 Paul writes, “Do not take
revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is
mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Real leaders of God are not
people who are revenge minded. Whenever you’re a leader you will come
across people who will not cooperate with what you feel like you should do.
But the scriptures are clear that retaliation should not be the answer to that
problem. Revenge is not in the heart of the kind of leaders that God wants.
Really, it’s not just about leaders here, revenge and retaliation is not what
God wants for any of His children. His message is, you let me take care of
justice instead of trying to take it in your own hands. James and John had
that message brought home and it was a lesson that they would learn through
the Holy Spirit.
    Now we see James and John also involved in another situation. As the
disciples saw Jesus’ kingdom getting ready to come to fruition as they
approached Jerusalem it was time to make sure for James and John that they
had the proper spots that they deserved. After all, they had probably given up
the most of all the disciples. They had left everything to follow Jesus and we
said they most likely came from a wealthy setting. Didn’t they at least
deserve the top spots based on that. Let’s take a look at just what happened.
Matthew 20:20-28
    Now we don’t know for sure that this ploy was cooked up by James and
John and they pulled their mother into it hoping that she would have
persuasive pull. It could be possible that the mother was seeking these for
her kids on her own. But when you read the other gospels, you get the idea
that this was the idea of James and John. Now James and John were very
close with Jesus and maybe they even expected to be given an important
place in God’s new kingdom, but they wanted to make sure. One thing is
quite clear from the scriptures, and that is that their request sure riled up the
other disciples. They were not happy about it all. You see what James and
John lost sight of here is that leadership is not about sitting on thrones and
having the seats of power. Real leadership, real greatness is about serving
other people. Jesus taught James and John that godly leaders aren’t
concerned about their stature. It seems that at this point James and John
were struggling with their humility. They thought they deserved the highest
honor they could get, when instead they should have been worrying about if
they were serving those who really needed them. When we are the kind of
leaders that God wants to be we shouldn’t be concerned about our titles and
how much clout they carry. We should be more focused on being the servant
that God wants us to be. Just like Jesus, who took on the very role of a
servant and came to earth to pay the price for our sins. He left his stature in
Heaven behind Him and make Himself nothing so that we could be saved.
What greater example do we need than that. You see in a way James and
John were almost making themselves like the Pharisees here with them
worrying about having the best and most influential seats. Remember when
Jesus said this to the Pharisees in Luke 11:43. “Woe to you Pharisees,
because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in
the marketplaces.” That sound eerily close to what James and John were
worried about. Jesus certainly didn’t want His disciples resembling anything
close to the Pharisees. You see the truth is, godly leaders become leaders not
to make a name for themselves, not to have the recognition, but they become
leaders because they want to serve people. If you are a child of God this life
is not about making a name for yourself, it’s about making a name for God
and bringing glory to His name. James and John were very close to Jesus, but
Jesus was not afraid to tell them what they needed to hear instead of what
they wanted to hear.
    Tonight I want to look at one other scripture, and in this one it actually
pertains to only John. We don’t see James involved anywhere here in this,
yet it is an important lesson of leadership that John learns.
Mark 9:38-40
    John was out and about, maybe on a preaching mission and he came
across a scene where a man had driven out a demon using Jesus’ name. John,
being one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, and a member of His inner circle felt like
that man didn’t have the right to be healing people in Jesus’ name. John told
Jesus, “We told him to stop, because He was not one of us.” Once again
Jesus has to bring correction and tells John not to stop him. He just did a
miracle in my name, he isn’t going to turn around and say something bad
about me. Other words, if he isn’t against us then he must be for us. It’s
okay for other people to perform miracles in my name. John had this
exclusiveness that made him feel like if they weren’t one of the twelve
disciples they weren’t as special as they were and they shouldn’t be doing
miracles in Jesus’ name. Once again it was some pride that seemed to be
coming out of John. But the lesson that John learned about being a godly
leader was simply this: God works through other people, we don’t have
the market on Jesus’ name. You almost wonder if John may have not been
a little jealous. After all if you remember there was a time when Jesus’
disciples had tried to remove a demon in Jesus’ name and failed. John in
reality, should have set his pride aside and said, “Praise the Lord.” There was
a man who was just healed of demon possession in the name of the Lord.
John should have known if the man wasn’t really of the Lord it wouldn’t have
worked to begin with. When we are godly leaders we realize that our church,
our denomination doesn’t have the market cornered on Jesus’ name. Other
churches and other Christians are doing good things in the name of the Lord.
Instead of thinking down on them because they aren’t Church of God or our
Church of God are they are some other denomination we should praise the
Lord for what He is doing through their ministry and their lives as well. You
see that is when the church fails to be all it can be in communities and
neighborhoods when the churches see each other as competition instead of
brothers and sisters in Christ. When someone gets saved, whether it is our
church or someone else’s church, we should all rejoice and be glad. But it
was John’s maturity level coming through at that time.
    James and John had so far to go when they began their journey with Jesus.
As they journeyed it seemed they never stop learning lessons from Him. As
we seek to be godly people and leaders, Jesus will shape us and continue to
teach us valuable lessons. We can be comforted in seeing how John grew to
understand the humility and servant hood that is needed. He saw how
important love really is as we read His gospel. James, he ended up being the
very first disciple who was martyred. These Sons of Thunder, eventually out
grew that name. Their character was changed to the point of that name no
longer fitting them. That is what happens when we submit our life to the
Holy Spirit.

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