These are the names of the twelve disciples: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Plus his replacement Matthias)
James son of Zebedee
Last month I wrote about James and this month I have also written about James. This month, though, I will comment on James, the son of Zebedee, as opposed to James, the son of Alphaeus who is not to be confused with James, the son of Zebedee because this James had a brother, John. So you were warned. (I am still taking the pills)
James son of Zebedee was the elder brother of John, both who worked for their dad. Zebedee was a fisherman; in fact he could be classed as the MD of the company (or CEO for our American readers). Not only were the brothers involved in the business Zebedee also had hired men working for him. There is no doubt that when the brothers obeyed the call to follow Jesus; they gave up a reliable and steady business opportunity. ‘When he had gone a little farther, Jesus saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.’ Mark 1:19 When Jesus called James and John, there was no delay or time for thought Jesus called and they responded. When Jesus calls us is our response as quick? Or are we sometimes like Jonah and go the other way to escape from the call, or at least try to escape.
James and his brother were kindred spirits; they did things together, sometimes to the detriement of others. In the passage of scripture covered by Mark 10:35-45 we can read that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, went to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and his brother. It is not surprising that Jesus had already said to James son of Zebedee and his brother, “I give you the names Boanerges.” which means Sons of Thunder. Mark 3:17
James and his brother along with Peter did have a special relationship with Jesus. In Mathew 17:1 we read that ‘After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.’
James went on, after the death of Jesus, to preach in Jerusalem and Judea. He became a martyr under the rule of King Herod around about 44AD. See Acts 12:1-2 ‘It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.’
Jesus said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
These were the words that Jesus spoke to James. It could well be the same words that Jesus is speaking to you and me.