Summary: When John begins his journey as a disciple he has a thunderous character which is very intolerant. Yet, because Jesus sees all disciples as “a work in progress” we can have the hope and assurance that we also can be disciples for Jesus.
John son of Zebedee:- thundering character gives way to loving disciple.
I don’t want to sound disrespectful to Jesus but, as we have systematically considered the disciples, we have found ourselves in a position where we have to wonder about the choice of disciples which Jesus made.
As an example of what I mean have a look at this list which comes from Mark 3:16-19
These are the twelve He appointed: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter, James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.
Now I don’t know about you, but anyone who gets the nickname “Son of Thunder” cannot be someone who you expect to be a useful disciple on any team. What is Jesus doing?
The word “Boanerges” is in the same word family as words which can be translated to mean “violent, anger or rage”.
Here was a young man, a disciple who was hand-picked by Jesus, and he had an incredibly violent and angry temper.
How much violence and anger does he have? Let’s read
As we seek to understand this passage let’s remember that the hatred which Jews and Samaritans had for each other was a hatred which spanned many centuries.
The Jews despised the Samaritans about as much as you despised a nest of scorpions. The direct route from Galilee to Jerusalem was through Samaria. But the Jews would often go the long way round. Most Jews didn’t want to be there. In many ways Jesus is in forbidden territory.
But it is not all a one way street. Samaritans hated the Jews just as much.
They were tired of being called Samaritan dogs.
They were tired of being branded half-castes.
They were tired of being seen as moral deviations.
They especially hated the fact that the Jews considered themselves to be of better religious stock then the Samaritans.
So when a Jew did try and take a short-cut through the region, they would make life as difficult as possible.
That is what has John so upset.
Jesus is the Lord.
Jesus is the Messiah.
Jesus is a nice guy.
And these arrogant half-caste uncivilised rednecks have just insulted Him. You can just imagine the blood boiling can’t you. You can just imagine how his mind is in overdrive. And that is the worst time to say what you are thinking.
It’s at that point that many of us, I’m sure can relate to John
Imagine yourself driving in the car. You are on your way to church and someone cuts you off. Next moment you have your head out the window yelling all sorts of ungodly words. To make it worse your four year old asks you what some of those words mean. That’s what happens doesn’t it – when anger takes hold. We say angry things at others. We respond in a way that is very ungodly. We let the emotion of the moment take over.
In situations like that something has to be done. When people act like idiots you have to help them become aware of their pathetic lives and teach them a lesson. I can relate to that ... but somehow I don’t think I would take it as far as John.