Summary: Have you ever known someone whose aggressive, ambitious personality just rubbed you the wrong way? Have you known someone who was so self-seeking that you couldn’t help but hope something humiliating would happen to them,just to teach them a lesson?
James, Son of Thunder
Matthew 10: 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Have you ever known someone whose aggressive, ambitious personality just rubbed you the wrong way? Have you known someone who was so self-seeking that you couldn’t help but hope something humiliating would happen to them, just to teach them a lesson? Have you known someone whose pushy self-promoting got in the way of your own goals and ambitions, humble as they were? Have you ever known someone who was just plain loud about everything, especially about what they believed in? Well, that was how James and his younger brother John were seen by others, and especially James.
When we first meet these two together, they are mentioned as the sons of Zebedee, fishing together with , Simon and Andrew .Mark 1: 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 make you fishers of men." 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. There are some things that we can learn from this passage about the environment that James and John grew up in and how it helped to mold them. We see in these verses that they worked with and for their father, Zebedee, We know that James is the older brother of John, so that immediately gives him privileges in the Zebedee family . He was the one who would take over the family business … he would also be given a larger share of the inheritance. We also know that James came from a reasonably wealthy home. Zebedee was a successful fisherman . The extent of that business is seen when we read that he was wealthy enough to afford hired men. This was not the norm along the Sea of Galilee. Most of the fishermen worked as part of a family business, or as part of a cooperative . Zebedee of Galilee was unusual; he was a cut above the rest. & His boys were raised to see themselves in the same light. Their mother thought that they were quite special, too. Perhaps she was an even greater motivator for them to see themselves as above the rest.
Turn to Matt. and you will see what I mean. Matthew 20:20-28. 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." 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.
In this passage , we find the mother of James and John approaching Jesus and asking Him to give places of special honor and recognition to her sons, places so lofty that her request caused a major stir among the disciples. When you first read this, don’t you find it reminiscent of the stories you’ve heard about mothers of child stars in Hollywood or what are known as “pageant moms”, the ladies who begin training and investing in their toddler daughters to become beauty queens? Ie –Jon Benet Ramsey
Salome – Mrs. Zebedee – seems to be cut from that same cloth. Forget the others that are around; forget what the Master may have planned. Surely He can see just how special and unique and gifted her boys are! There are character flaws and behaviors that are quite common among parents like her. They try to run everything, and they run them with an agenda that their children receive preferential treatment and special recognition, the key places in the spotlight.
They can be extremely mercenary in their approach to matters that affect their children, and all of this is usually fueled by their own desire to be recognized as the special power behind the “gifted one”. Life revolves around the success of their children. Notice that she says, “these two sons of mine.” Quite a telling remark in this context, don’t you think? Now, what do you think was the effect of this and their father’s business success in relation to how James and John viewed themselves? Probably pretty much the same way that most children who are spoiled & made to think they are God’s gift to mankind view themselves. We know that Salome was one of the women who gave aid and support to the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. Perhaps she thought that would help secure her sons a place of importance in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus tells her that she just doesn’t understand what the cost would be for such places of prominence. We must give her credit, however. Just as being with Jesus altered the character of almost everyone who came in prolonged contact with Jesus, Mrs. Zebedee became a devoted follower of Jesus. Mark makes note that she was there when Jesus was taken down from the cross and that she was one of the women who had spices prepared that Resurrection Morning to take to the tomb (Mark 15:47-6:1-8), and she even entered the empty tomb that day and was told by the angel that “He has risen.” Whatever she had been like, Jesus completely changed her into a gentle, dedicated servant, like her youngest son.