James the Son of Zebedee

And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

Mark 3:17

The Apostle James was one of the more prominent Apostles during the earthly ministry of Jesus. He, along with Peter and John, were eyewitnesses to several things that the rest of the twelve did not see. All three of these men were bold and outspoken. This James was the son of Zebedee, and older brother of John. He was not the James who spoke at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15). Nor did he write the letter that bears his name.

Boldness and courage are good traits for a leader but they can get you in trouble if you speak before you think or you presume yourself more important than you really are. Consider the case of James in Mark chapter 10:

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.

Mark 10:35-40

James and John had held prominent positions throughout Jesus’ ministry. When Jesus begins to describe what the kingdom of God will be like, they assume they deserve to have important positions then as well.

Their request shows that they had no idea what was about to happen!

They had heard Jesus say that He would be offered up but they didn’t understand that this is how He would usher in the kingdom.

Jesus tells James that he would follow Him through sufferings. As recorded in Acts 12, James became the first martyr among the Apostles. He wanted to be where Jesus was and his desire was fulfilled.

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