Tag Archives: Disciples

God’s People, part 167: Boanerges

Read Luke 9:51-56

“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do us a favor…when you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.’”  (Mark 10:35, 37, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

SonsOfThunder-1024x537Part 167: Boanerges. So far, we’ve learned a little more about Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. We learned that Simon was an uneducated fisherman who had a loud mouth and a tendency to make rash decisions. He was close to getting who Jesus’ true identity; however, he never quite got to that ultimate understanding during Jesus’ lifetime. We also learn that his brother Andrew, also and uneducated fisherman, was passionate about bringing people to Jesus. With that said, he found it hard to put his faith fully in Jesus’ ability. He often let circumstances smother the passionate faith he had for Christ.

This bring us to Boanerges, which is a Greek phrase that translates to English as, “sons of thunder.” The Greek is a slight mistranslation from the Hebrew phrase, bənē reghesh, which translates in English as “sons of rage”. This was the nickname that Jesus gave to the brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee. Both James and John were called by Jesus to be disciples around the same time as Peter and Andrew. Both of them, like Peter and Andrew, were fisherman. In fact, we know that the sons of thunder were working in their father Zebedee’s fishing business.

We don’t know a whole lot about James; however, we do know that he was among the inner circle of disciples who were closest to Jesus. He witnessed the Transfiguration and he was in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus while prayed for God to spare his life. Wherever Jesus went, James was sure to follow.

The same is true about John who, like his brother, was among the inner circle of disciples. He has traditionally been identified as the beloved disciple that wrote the Gospel of John (so named because of this attribution). Most modern scholars do not believe John authored the fourth Gospel; however, his importance and influence in the early church cannot be disputed. In fact, John was named as one of the “pillars” of the Jerusalem Church mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles and referenced in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

With all of that said, Jesus’ nicknamed James and John as the sons of rage or the sons of thunder. This is an an indication that these two where known for their fiery ambition and tempers. In Mark 10:35-45, the two brothers approached Jesus in order to petition for themselves to be in the places of honor (and power) next to Jesus when he assumed control of his kingdom. Thinking that he was the military messiah who would overthrow the Romans and restore Israel to her former glory, the Sons of Thunder were vying for power. This set them at odds with the rest of the disciples, who quickly grew angry and annoyed with the two.

Also, when Jesus and his disciples were not welcomed by Samaritan villagers, James and John both turned to Jesus and asked if him if he wanted them to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume [the villagers]”. In both cases, Jesus sternly rebuked the Sons of Thunder” for their scheming ambition and fiery tempers. These two, as passionate and devoted as they were, were far from being the perfect followers in Christ.

The same is true for us. Each and every one of us, just like the twelve disciples, come to Jesus with our strengths as well as our shortcomings. Perhaps anger and ambition are things that you struggle with or, perhaps, you are like the other disciples who grow short-tempered with those who are ambitious and short-tempered. On either end of that, Jesus rebukes the sin in us and calls us to deeper and more committed discipleship. The challenge for us is to heed Jesus’ call.

Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Lord, help me to quell the part of me that seeks to derail the path you’ve set me on. Help me overcome my weaknesses and grow in my strengths. Amen.

THE WAY, Part 2

Read Matthew 4:17-25


“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:3-4, NLT)

the-way-1Just the other night I watched a film that I had been meaning to watch for the past couple of years. Being a busy person, I kept forgetting about it until the other night. I was perusing Netfilx and I came across the movie, “The Way,” and remembered that I wanted to see it. The film was written and directed by Emilio Estevez and stars his father, Martin Sheen.

The film is about a father who discovers that his son died during a storm while backpacking on the Camino de Santiago (“The Way of St. James”), which is of various lengths depending on where you start. The father, who spontaneously decides to complete his son’s trek, started in France and traveled by foot approximately 800 km or 497 miles. Along the way, the father meets and, eventually befriends, several people along the way.

In a flashback scene, the father is remembering an argument he had with his son. He wasn’t happy with his son’s life choices, and he thought his 40 year old son’s passion for world travel was frivolous. In the argument his son questions him on why he doesn’t just go on the trip with him. He also questions why his dad insists on basing his life around work and other such things. His father replies, “You may not think much of my life, but it’s the one I choose.”

At that moment his son replies, “You don’t choose a life dad, you live one.” Wow, what words of wisdom. His father didn’t reply to him that day, which would be the last day he ever saw his son alive, but those words forever echoed in his head. “You don’t choose a life dad, you live one.” His son had hit upon something that would take him an 800 km trek to discover.

We often go about our daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly routines as if we have chosen the lives we have. But have we? Did you choose to be born? Did you choose what family you were born into? Did you choose what schools you were first educated in? Did you choose every last detail of your life? The fact is, while we do have and make choices that affect our lives, we do not choose our lives. They are a gift given to us by God through our parents. Life is a gift that is meant to be used, and used abundantly.

Along The Way, the father discovers that life is meant to be lived and he discovers that living life means living it in the company of others, even those who seem worlds apart from who you are. We do not get to choose our lives, but we do get to choose to live them and to be a presence of hope and faith, of love, support and encouragement for others along the way of our life’s journey.

Christ calls us, as his disciples, to live life through sharing in the journey with others. Jesus was not just one person out in the country side, choosing his life all by himself; rather, he chose to journey with and encourage others who rather different than him. Sometimes their differences were downright frustrating; yet, Jesus chose to love them. From that loving bond came an even larger community of people who chose to join in with them, a community that continues on to this day through the Church. Today’s challenge is for you to stop pretending you choose your life and start living it. Live it in the presence of the people around you and live it in, through and with love! That is THE WAY to the Kingdom of Heaven.


Make Jesus the way you live your life.


Lord, I want to be more like you. Though I do not choose my life, I choose to live my life for you. Amen.