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Summary: Disciple James

Do you have someone at your workplace that is always promoting themselves? Perhaps your kids play on a sports team and there is always a particular parent that is brown nosing the coach so their kid can get more playing time. This is exactly how Jesus’ disciples felt when James and John’s momma asked Jesus to give them the honor to sit on the right and left of Jesus in His kingdom. Why are some parents so ambitious about their kids being the star of the show, what drives them to do such crazy things? Before we look at this issue of the momma’s ambition lets look at the background of James.


James and his brother John are partners with Peter in a fishing business. Their dad is named Zebedee and he is probably the chief owner of the fishing business. James and John are both on the inner circle of Jesus disciples. Peter, James and John are probably the three closest disciples Jesus had. When Jesus went up on the mountain and His clothes became brilliantly white and Moses and Elijah showed up the three amigos were there (Matt 17:1). The second major scene we see is the night Jesus was arrested and the three amigos were there in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is the night that Jesus was in agonizing prayer before He was arrested and killed on the cross. The only time the Bible tells an account of James by himself without his brother John is in Acts 12:2.

James and John are called the “Sons of Thunder” and it is unknown how they got this name. However, we do see an account where they wanted to call down fire from heaven (Luke 9:54) because the Samaritans did not receive Jesus. Thunder makes a lot of noise and captures everyone’s attention, similar to when their momma asked Jesus to put the brothers on the right and left of Him in His kingdom.

Wrong Ambitions

Matt 20

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.

21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?”

She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

They said to Him, “We are able.”

23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”

24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

The Scene

Jesus had finished explaining in a parable that the first will be last and the last will be first (Matt 20:1-16). Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem and the disciples are following Jesus; included in this group are the women that provided food and substance for the disciples, which included the Salome, the mother of James and John. According to Mark 10:32 as the disciples were following Jesus; He was telling them what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem. The disciples were both amazed and afraid as Jesus marched toward Jerusalem. This was to be the final missionary journey with Jesus in the flesh, the time frame this account happens is probably a week before the week Jesus goes to the cross.

People who say Jesus was just a nice man with good teachings don’t know the real Jesus. Jesus was every ounce a true man; willing to march steadfast to Jerusalem to be beaten, spit, cursed and crucified just so we can be saved from our sins and that includes you partner! The disciples were scared but also excited expecting Jesus to establish His rule on earth shortly. They were excited to be on the ruling council with Jesus. The combination of excitement and fear puts your mind on the edge and all your senses become super charged. While they are super charged what you say during those moments is truly what is in your heart.

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