James, a Fiery Disciple

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

James and John, the sons of Zebedee—that’s how we are most often introduced to James and his brother. With James being first, he is likely the older brother.

Also likely is the prominence of their father, Zebedee. He had a lucrative fishing business that afforded him hired servants to help. Perhaps Zebedee had an aggressive temperament that rubbed off on his sons for Jesus nicknamed them “Boanerges,” sons of thunder.

When Jesus was ready to go to Jerusalem for the last time, he planned to go the unconventional route through Samaria. Jesus asked James to go ahead and make arrangements for them to stay overnight as they traveled.

James and John traveled to one town to inquire, but the leaders there refused to help. James angrily reported back to Jesus and asked,

“Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven?” Luke 9:54


Jesus had never shown anything but goodwill to the Samaritans. He healed the Samaritan leper and commended his gratefulness. He helped the Samaritan woman at the well to receive the water of life and he made a Samaritan the hero of one of his best known parables.

No, calling down fire on this community wouldn’t do.

Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village. Luke 9:56

Simple alternative.

Thunderous or not, the brothers, along with Peter, were a part of the inner circle that were singled out at times to go with Jesus. They were taken into the house of Jairus when Jesus raised his daughter to life. Jesus took them up the mountain where he was transfigured. The inner circle went farther into the Garden of Gethsemane with him before the arrest.

The only other time we hear James voice is when he and John make a request of Jesus.

“Let one of us sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.”

Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with baptism I am baptized with?”

“We can.” Mark 10:37-39

Jesus tells them that they will indeed go through much, but it is not for him to grant who will sit beside him. When this stirs up resentment with the other disciples, Jesus realizes he must once again share with all twelve the need to have a servant heart rather than to lord it over others.

Being a fiery disciple can mean you are passionate and enthusiastic, but taken to the extreme, one can become mean, hot-headed, and self-centered.

Evidently, James channeled that fire to be an effective disciple. Fourteen years after Jesus death, Herod Agrippa was in control.

He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. Acts 12:2

James was the first apostle to have a martyr’s death and the only one of the twelve whose death is recorded in Scripture. “With the sword” means he was beheaded.

~ Joyce ~




Bad Ending

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Last week we rejoiced with Naaman that his leprosy was healed. Naaman stood before Elisha and declared,

“Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.” II Kings 5:15

Naaman prepared to give all the wonderful gifts he had brought, but Elisha would have none of it.

And even though Naaman urged him, Elisha refused. II Kings 5:16

Elisha wanted to underline the fact that the Lord had performed this miracle. Naaman then made a strange request.

“… please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. II Kings 5:17

In Naaman’s culture it was commonly thought that a deity could be worshiped only on the soil of the nation to which he was bound.

How wonderful if our story ended there. Naaman was cleansed and became a believer in the one God. Elisha gave great witness with humility. But sadly there’s more. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, was not so pure in heart.

Gehazi said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman by not accepting from him what he brought. I will run after him and get something from him.” II Kings 5:20

So off he went, running to catch up with Naaman’s chariot. Naaman spied him and stopped the chariot to meet him.

“Is everything all right?” he asked.

“Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. II Kings 5:21-22

And then came the first lie.

“My master sent me [Yeah right!] to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have come to me from Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’ ” II Kings 5:22

Naaman generously gave him two talents instead of just one plus the clothes. Gehazi took them home.  Later, he stood before Elisha. 

“Where have you been?” Elisha asked. II Kings 5:25

Here comes lie number two.

“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered. II Kings 5:25

Somehow Elisha knew where he’d been and what he did and proceeded to give him a tongue lashing. Not only that, Elisha declared that Gehazi would now have the leprosy that Naaman once had.

So many emotions and actions in  this story;

fear and dread (Oh no, leprosy!),  

hope (There’s a prophet in Israel),

disappointment (That’s not what I had in mind),

rage (No way I’m going in the Jordan),

submission (If I must),

rejoicing and gratitude (I’m healed!),

belief (Only one God), generosity (I give these things), humility (No, God did it),

dedication (I will only worship God.)

In contrast, we saw selfishness and lies from Gehazi, and judgment (Be sure your sins will find you out!) 

So where are we in the story? Haughty, nothing can happen to me. Or are you in a low place needing hope. Perhaps, like the servant girl, you are in a place to give hope to someone in need. Is there an answer right in front of you, but you’re too stubborn to do the simple thing? Are you generous, humble, or selfish? Glean from what fits your life situation.

~ Joyce ~