The Sons of Thunder

Recently, I have studied again the request of James and John to rule with Jesus in His coming kingdom. You can find this account in both Matthew (20:17-28) and Mark (10:32-45). These are interesting passages which speak of the kingdom of God and the work of Jesus as well as the short-sighted and selfish members of the twelve.

Jesus began each passage with the third warning about what would happen in Jerusalem. The Son of Man would be taken up and handed to the gentiles (the Romans) who would scourge and beat Him and then kill Him. He also told them that after three days He would arise.

It’s interesting that the next part of the account has the mother of James and John (in Matthew but not in Mark) asking that her sons rule with Jesus.

Jesus called these two young men “boanerges,” which means “sons of thunder.” I smile each time I think of the nickname Jesus gave these two. They obviously had explosive personalities (Luke 9:54). Jesus asked if they could drink His cup and be baptized with His baptism. These terms referred to the suffering and death Jesus would experience. They assured Jesus they could–and they did. James became the first disciple to be martyred (Acts 12:2) at the hands of Herod Agrippa I in AD 44. John, the only member of the twelve not killed for his faith, suffered persecution and exile.

Their request to rule with Jesus came immediately after Jesus explanation of what would happen to Him. Did they understand and believe what Jesus said? It certainly seems so. They apparently were not incredulous at what Jesus predicted. They obviously did not think this would destroy the kingdom.

Jesus, of course, told them they would drink from His cup and be baptized with His baptism but that the places of authority in the coming kingdom would come only from the Father.

I’m sure James and John did not understand all they faced and what the kingdom meant, but they seemed to place their faith that Jesus knew and that His kingdom would come soon.

I find myself with so little understanding at times, but even in my misunderstanding I want to have a similar faith to these sons of thunder who gave their all for Christ.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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[Thanksgiving] I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— — 1 Corinthians 1:4-5 (NIV)