The Sons of Thunder

Text: Mark 3:14-19


I.         Often when we talk about the apostles, we focus on the notable Peter and Paul.

            A.        There are many things we can learn from their lives, but we also can learn from the examples of the other apostles as well.

            B.        Today I would like to direct your attention to two brothers, James and John who were sons of a man named Zebedee.

II.        James and John were one of the early disciples called by Jesus

            A.        Andrew and an unnamed man (probably John) met Jesus shortly after his baptism and temptation in the wilderness - John 1:35-42

                        1.         Andrew invited his brother Simon, who Jesus nicknamed “Peter”

                        2.         Peter and Andrew had a fishing business. A man named Zebedee and his sons were partners in that business - Luke 5:10

                        3.         John was one of Zebedee’s sons. His brother was named James.

            B.        Later, Jesus journeys to their region and teaches from Peter’s boat - Luke 5:1-11

                        1.         When Jesus told them to follow him, they dropped everything and left their family and business behind - Mark 1:16-20

            C.        It was Peter, James and John who were Jesus’ closest companions

                        1.         When the daughter of a synagogue official was raised, only Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus, witnessing the raising of the dead - Mark 5:35-37

                        2.         Again when Jesus was transfigured, the ones accompanying him were Peter, James and John - Matthew 17:1-9

                        3.         In his deep grief, just prior to his death, it was Peter, James and John who accompanied Jesus in the garden - Matthew 26:36-46

            D.        In the gospel of John, John never names himself but simply refers to himself as the one whom Jesus loved or “the other disciple”

                        1.         When the disciples were dying to know who would betray the Lord, they got John to actually ask the question - John 13:21-26

                        2.         It was to John that Jesus gave the care of his mother, which is interesting as Jesus’ brothers were still living - John 19:25-27

            E.        It was John, who ran with Peter to see the empty tomb - John 20:1-10

III.       Jesus nicknames James and John “Sons of Thunder” - Mark 3:17

            A.        Why “sons of thunder”? The Bible never fully explains this interesting nickname, but we can see the cause of it in the lives of these two men

            B.        They were quick to protect Jesus, though their zeal was misplaced - Mark 9:38-40

            C.        When Jesus was rejected by the Samaritans because he was traveling to Jerusalem, James and John wanted to avenge the insult - Luke 9:51-56

            D.        They had great zeal, but, like the Jewish people as a whole, it was not founded in knowledge - Romans 10:1-3

            E.        They, and their family, wanted to be great in Jesus’s kingdom - Matthew 20:20-28

                        1.         We often think how pushy their mother was, but notice that they were willing to suffer for Christ and Christ granted that it would be so.

            F.        It was Peter and John who were arrested and threatened - Acts 4:13-21

            G.        James was the first apostle to die for the faith - Acts 12:1-2

                        1.         I suspect that it was the son of thunder who stood out, making him the easy target.

IV.      Notice that their lack of knowledge was corrected and their zeal was put to useful work for the Lord

            A.        John was the last of the apostles to die. Early Christian writers state that he lived over 94 years.

            B.        It was late in his life, while exiled on a penal island, that John wrote Revelation - Revelation 1:9-11

                        1.         Isn’t it ironic that the son of thunder heard the booming voice of God?

            C.        We can see that John had not lost his zeal and strength

                        1.         He uses strong words

                                    a.         Liar - I John 1:6; 2:4

                                    b.         Murderer - I John 3:15

                        2.         Strong warnings - II John 7-11

                        3.         Strong reprimand - III John 9-11

V.        We need to imitate those who are good

            A.        God’s people are to be volunteers - Psalms 110:3

            B.        Like John, we need to love our God with our whole being

                        1.         Matthew 22:37 - With all our heart, soul, and mind

                        2.         Jeremiah 29:12-13 - Only through complete devotion can we find God

                        3.         Psalm 119:1-3 - In obedience do we seek God

            C.        Like John, we need to be zealous to do good - Titus 2:11-14

            D.        Like James and John we need the courage to stand boldly for our Lord - Romans 10:8-11

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