Summary: This is a study of James based on 12 Ordinary Men. It has a lot of added notes and scripture.
Note: This is a study from the book 12 Ordinary Men by John McArthur an excellent book. There is also a fill in the blank outline from Adult Bible Fellowships of First Baptist Church Orion that I have posted in the series. This is not original but worth posting for study.
James: The Apostle of Passion
Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the
brother of John with the sword. - Acts 12:1-2
I. The Gospels are surprisingly silent about James. This is ironic for a few reasons.
a. He was the eldest of the Zebedee brothers.
b. The Zebedee family seems to have been more prominent than the
Jonas family (Peter and Andrew). This is hinted at the fact that they are called "the sons of Zebedee without additional information. So at this writing they were well known, even 30 years after the death of Jesus. Also we see that Zebedee owned a large fishing business Mark 1:20, and John was prominent enough to be known to the high priest to get Peter admitted to the courtyard (John 18:15-16).
c. In the lists of the apostles, James is always mentioned right after Peter.
II. However, James does figure prominently in the close inner close of the three. Together they were privileged to witness some amazing things.
a. They saw Jesus power in the raising of Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37).
b. They saw His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1).
c. They (along with Andrew) saw His sovereignty when He foretold the future on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13:3).
d. They saw the Savior’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane when He asked them to watch and pray with Him.
It is interesting that these were the only three or four who were permitted to see this about Jesus. It makes you wonder why, maybe because He was preparing them for a special task.
III. The fervor and intensity in James’ personality are clearly seen in his desire to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans.
a. Jesus had nicknamed the sons of Zebedee, Boanerges, which means
“Sons of thunder.”
We see a James who is zealous, thunderous, passionate, and fervent.
He reminds us of Jehu in 2 Kings 9 who furiously destroyed the wicked house of Ahab the wicked king. This was a great zeal for the Lord but this turned to selfish and worldly ambition for himself as we see, 2Ki 10:31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.
Passion is good but unbridled by the Holy Spirit can be deadly.
There are other people who were passionate about their cause in scripture Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Elijah yet they learned how to keep it focused on the task at hand and not get out of control.
Zeal is good but a part from knowledge is damning Rom 10:2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Zeal with out compassion is condemning.
b. We get our best glimpse of why James and John were called this in Luke 9:51-56.
Luk 9:51-56 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, (52) and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. (53) But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. (54) And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" (55) But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. (56) "For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village.
c. It was significant that Jesus chose to travel through Samaria at all.
d. In Jesus day, the Samaritans still accepted to worship Jehovah as God, but in
essence they made a new religion based in large part on pagan practices.
e. Since the party traveling with Jesus was fairly large He sent messengers ahead to
f. The Samaritans summarily reject the request.
g. James and John, the Sons of Thunder were instantly filled with passionate outrage.
h. The reference to Elijah is significant.
This story is found in 2 Kings 2:1-17. Ahizah the King was sick seeking the direction of Baal-Zubub