Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

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.


Luke 9:51-56

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

Luke 9:51-56.

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.

When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54).

Wow. That is one angry man. He has turned this lack of hospitality, which was based on nothing more than cultural differences, into a show-down. No ... more than a showdown ... they want the place to be annihilated.

Every home destroyed and burnt.

Every man woman and child put to death.

And that is meant to be an appropriate response to a city of people who have done nothing more than ask them to go the long way around?

No wonder Jesus rebukes Him.

John, you can’t just go around vaporising people when they do something you don’t like.

Now get off the bus with that attitude you can’t be part of the team.

That is not what happens does it. Jesus does rebuke John. What the exact rebuke is we are not told. But after the rebuke is over they just go to the next village and keep on going till Jesus ends up on a cross in Jerusalem. John gets another chance.

Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a "light bulb" and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. One day Edison was finished with one light bulb and he gave it to a young boy helper who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. The boy was so nervous that, when he got to the top of the stairs, he dropped the bulb. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. It was an act which changed that boy’s life by showing him that we are not defined or judged by our actions and that, if given the chance, our lives can change.

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