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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

The Sons of Thunder

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

James the Greater and John the Beloved

Mark 1 (Temptation of Christ and Teaching)

Mark 1:19-21 ESV

Mark 1:16-17 (Jesus Called Simon and Andrew)

Mark 3:17 ESV

Luke 9:51-56 ESV

Matthew 17:1-8 ESV

Acts 12:2 ESV

John 19:25-27 ESV

1 John 2:22, 2 John 7 ESV

A Story of Love Series

In Mark 1 we are told that immediately following the temptation of Jesus, He taught to crowds of people who came then He began calling disciples.

Mark 1:19-21 tells us, “Jesus went on a little farther. He saw James and his brother John who were sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat mending their nets. Jesus called them and they left their father Zebedee. He was in the boat with men who were working for him.”

In my mind it makes sense that when Jesus started teaching to a crowd, ‘word’ about Him started to spread. When Jesus called Simon and Andrew in Mark 1:16:17 they immediately put down their nets and followed Him. The same was true when Jesus asked James and John to come. They left with Him immediately.

We’ve discussed before the education of young Hebrew boys in the 1st Century. Boys were sent to school to study and memorize the Old Testament. Those who excelled could become a Rabbi or even a Pharisee. If you did not meet the criteria of being able to fulfill the requirement which included memorizing scripture (massive amounts of scripture) you were sent home to learn the trade of your father.

So, like their father, James and John were fishermen.

It’s interesting that very early on Jesus gave James and John the name Boanerges or Sons of Thunder. Jesus chose them specifically knowing they would represent thunder. We do know that Jesus can see the heart of a man. He knew what they were capable of when He called them. Jesus also knew who they would be.

Jesus knew what they could accomplish for the Kingdom of God. But, He also knew what their thunder could mean. In Luke 9:51-56 we find, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.”

Notice it says, “they” said. Both brothers made the comment.

Another interesting thing to note is that both James and John knew full well that Jesus possessed the power to have fire to come down from heaven and consume them. The problem James and John had was not an issue of their faith. It was an issue of their patience, their tolerance, and their alignment with God’s plan. Raining down fire from heaven at that moment was not part of God’s plan.

James and John turned out to be part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. We read in Matthew 17:1-8, “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”

Jesus took only three disciples up the mountain. That was not because Jesus loved them more. Jesus loves everyone the same.

It was because they were called to a specific task in the kingdom. Jesus knew they would play an integral part in building the early church. They needed time with Jesus and there were specific things they needed to experience. Jesus was giving them what they would need. So, who were the three men in Jesus’ inner circle? They were James and John, Sons of Thunder and Simon Peter (see next post).

James, son of Zebedee was also called James the Greater.

James the Greater played a significant role after Jesus ascended to heaven. He preached in the northern Spanish region of Galicia and because of that he is buried there and is considered to be the patron saint of Spain (

James was the first apostle to be martyred in 44 A.D. by King Agrippa I. We read in Acts 12:1-2, “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword.”

It is believed that John, also called John the Beloved was the last apostle to die. He was not martyred but he died of old age on the Island of Patmos. John received the Revelation of God while living on Patmos.

While James’ brother John was initially referred to as one of the Sons of Thunder, John would change significantly throughout his lifetime. When Jesus was alive the brothers tended to stick together. Later John was referred to as John the Beloved. He was the only disciple present at the crucifixion and we read in John 19:25-27, “but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”

Jesus entrusted the care of His Mother Mary to John, the Beloved.

In addition to writing the Gospel of John, he also wrote boldly in 1 John 2:22, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.”

He wrote in 2 John 7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

John’s later writings were bold and to the point.

John received the Revelation of Jesus Christ on the Island of Patmos.

The Sons of Thunder certainly made their mark with their passion and love for Jesus.

Today’s Spiritual Practice: What name would Jesus give to you?

Pray and think of what you would like Jesus to call you. Leave it with Jesus as a matter of prayer.

In God, Deborah


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