Summary: A beautiful summers day can turn violent when a sudden thunderstorm erupts. James and John had a tendency to erupt like a sudden storm.
Last week we looked at Peter and discussed how he seemed to be the best friend of Jesus. Jesus pinned all of his hopes and dreams on Peter. However, there were two others who were within an inner-circle with Peter. These three were allowed to be a part of teachings and miracles that the others were not privy too. Due to this inner-circle you will find a lot of parallels between their and Peter’s contact with Jesus.
We may think it would have been awesome to be this close to Jesus but we must ask the question “Why did Jesus keep them close?” While it is true they became the pillars of the church, perhaps there was a bit more to it than that. Remember when you were in grade school? There always seemed to be a class-clown or a trouble maker. What usually happened to these kids? There were moved closer to the teacher’s desk so they could keep an eye on them. I believe Jesus saw potential in these three but also saw a need for correction. So He kept them close.
They realized who Jesus was at the same time Peter did.
Luke 5:8-11 “When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, ‘Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.’ For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!’ 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.” Just like Peter they left everything to follow Jesus.
We find them again locked in the inner-circle with Peter.
Mark 3:13-17 “Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons. These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter),
17 James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them ‘Sons of Thunder‘),
Remember last week when Jesus first saw Peter? His name was at that time was Simon. The name Simon meant “to be heard”. He certainly lived up to his name. But Jesus saw something in him that said “Rock”. He would be solid, eventually.
Likewise when Jesus looked at James and John, He saw a storm. He saw two guys who, for the most part was as passive as a spring day. But in a moments notice they could explode with the force of an evening thunderstorm. Jesus knew what they would become but at this moment they needed watching.
This reminded me of a story I heard. In a certain town, there were two brothers, 8 and 10 years old, who were exceedingly mischievous. Whatever went wrong in the neighborhood, it turned out they had had a hand in it. Their parents were at their wits' end trying to control them. Finally they went to the Minister in the local church who had done some work with troubled children, and asked the Minister to talk to their boys. The Minister agreed to talk to the boys but he wanted to speak to the youngest one first. So the mother sent him into the Minister's office. The Minister sat the boy down across a huge, impressive desk which he sat behind. For about five minutes they just sat and stared at each other. Finally, the Minister pointed his forefinger at the boy and asked, "Where is God?" He wanted the boy to realize that God was everywhere and always watching. The boy looked under the desk, in the corners of the room, all around, but said nothing. Again, louder, the Minister pointed at the boy and asked, "Where is God?" Again the boy looked all around but said nothing. A third time, in a louder, firmer voice, the Minister leaned far across the desk and put his forefinger almost to the boy's nose, and asked, "Where is God?" The boy panicked and ran all the way home. Finding his older brother, he dragged him upstairs to their room and into the closet, where they usually plotted their mischief. He finally said, "We are in BIIIIG trouble." The older boy asked, "What do you mean BIG trouble?" His brother replied, "God is missing and they think we did it!"
Now back to James and John. They would be with Peter when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. (Mark 5:37) They would be with Peter when Jesus met with Moses and Elijah. (Luke 9: 32) And like Peter they often suffered from “foot in mouth” disease, as we will see in Luke.