September 24 I Friday
Song of Solomon 4-5
“James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘sons of thunder’).” —Mark 3:17
When Jesus walked this earth, part of His inner circle included the brothers James and John. Jesus gave the name “Boanerges,” which means “Sons of Thunder.” Their name probably derived from the time when Jesus sent messengers ahead into a Samaritan village. They were not welcomed, however, which led James and John to turn to Jesus and ask, “Lord, do You want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54). Jesus rebuked them for what they said and they continued to another village. These Sons of Thunder had a temper that was ready to call down fire from heaven over a trivial matter such as not being welcomed.
Not only so, these Sons of Thunder made a bold request to Jesus, “Let one of us sit at Your right and the other at Your left in your glory” (Mark 10:37). James and John were anticipating Jesus to set up the Messianic kingdom physically in Israel and wanted to make sure they had a spot reserved beside Jesus. But Jesus responded, “You don’t know what you are asking.” And challenged them by asking, “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?’” They unflinchingly answered, “We can!” Then Jesus told them, “…to sit at My right or left is not for Me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared” (Mark 10:38-40). In other words, Jesus declined their request.
Yet, James’s certainty that he could drink the same cup and be baptized with the same baptism as Jesus actually came to pass. He was one of the first disciples to be martyred; as the author of Acts tells us, “[King Herod] had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword” (Acts 12:2). James was a remarkable man who remained true to his faith.
John referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” throughout the Gospel of John. He also went on to write several books including First, Second and Third John as well as Revelation. Although John did have a temper, he grew and became affectionately known as “The Apostle of Love.” He went on to pen some of the most beautiful statements on love such as, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Though once full of hot tempers and pride, these zealous Sons of Thunder were turned by Christ into witnesses whose testimony has rumbled throughout the ages. We may never know what our commitment to a life surrendered to Christ may eventually cost us, but like James and John, may our ardent zeal in Him never change.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I do not know what my life will entail, but I ask that Your grace, Your mercy and Your love will sustain me all of my days. Thank You, Lord.