Summary: The three main characteristics of James the Apostle.

The 12 Apostles

Week 4 – James

Dr. Rik B. Wadge, Ph.D.

"Ambition, Courage and Zeal"



One of the men in the church had gone to his Pastor for counseling, where he revealed his dreams of becoming more ambitious, couragous and zealous in his marriage.

With that the Pastor handed the man a book entitled, "The Man of the House" and recommended that he read it.

One day when the husband had just finished the book he came up with an idea to impliment what he had learned. He got off work, drove home, parked his car in the driveway and then stormed right into the house and walked right up to his wife.

He Pointed a finger in her face, he said, "From now on woman, I want you to know that I am the man of this house, and my word is law! I want you to prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and when I’m finished eating my meal, I expect a sumptuous dessert afterward. Then, after dinner, you’re going to draw me a bath so I can relax. And, when I’m finished with my bath, guess who’s going to dress me and comb my hair?"

With that the wife promptly replied, "The funeral director"

The man certainly had developed ambition, courage and zeal... but for all the wrong reasons.


Today we’re going to look at an Apostle that seems to have had each of these three characteristics in his life... His name is James.

Matthew 4:18-22

The Calling of the First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Mark 3:17

17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder);

Jesus gave both James and John nicknames, “Sons of Thunder” which means

“sons of rage, sons of tumult”, “sons of anger”. “Thunderers”.

Let’s look at the first of James’ characteristics... Ambition.

Matthew 20:20-23

A Mother’s Request

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

This is what we know for sure about James from the scriptures:

1.He’s a rough fisherman,

2.his parents were fairly wealthy... they owned fishing boats and equipment... and

3.James’ father was friends with the high priest.


Here, James and his brother are brought before Jesus by their mama.

Notice, it’s their mother who speaks.

Put yourself in James’ shoes that could be really embarrissing.

It’s like when you were in grammer school and in front of all your friends your mother fixes your hair.

Or, like when you were in high school your mother gives you a ride to school, she drops you off and says at the top of her voice: "I love you pumpkin!"

So, for the next week all your high school friends start calling you pumpkin.

Have you ever noticed that...

As boys when we’re still pretty young our mothers would say, "you’re old enough to dress yourself"; so we do, but then when we’re in out in public: they’ve got to turn us, straighten us, comb us, tuck us and zip us,... and all in front of our friends...

Man that’s enough to give anybody a complex!

It’s no wonder most of our wives still dress us!

No one today knows exactly why Jesus called these two brothers "Sons of thunder, sons of anger" but I do. It was their momma.

Verse 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.

James had ambition! Misdirected a little, but he had ambition!

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