Monday, January 24, 2011

Lesson 3: James and John

Read Luke 9:49-56

Video blog (by Mike)

Thunder and Blunder (by Richard)

The brothers James and John were called by Jesus to be disciples while fishing like Peter had been previously. Like Peter, they figure prominently in the Gospels:
  • When the daughter of a prominent religious figure dies, they are present to see her raised from the dead (Luke 8:49-56).

  • Along with Peter, they are present at Jesus' transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13).

  • Along with Peter, they were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as he grieved his imminent death (Matthew 26:36-46).

  • John runs alongside Peter to discover the empty tomb of Jesus (John 20:1-10).
While Jesus called Peter his "rock", he instead refers to James and John as the "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17). Why?
  • They quickly suggest calling down fire like Elijah did on Mount Carmel in response to the Samaritans' snub of Jesus, inviting his rebuke (Luke 9:52-56).

  • Their Rabbi corrects them again when they insisted that others not in their inner circle cease casting out demons in Jesus' name (Mark 9:38-40).

  • Along with their mom, they argued about who would be greatest in Jesus' kingdom (Matthew 20:20-28).

  • Peter and John are the first to be arrested (Acts 4:13-21), possibly because their personalities made them easy targets.

  • James was the first disciple to die for his faith (Acts 12:1-2).
It's unlikely that Jesus called James and John "sons of thunder" in a derisive way, so, like we did with Peter last week, we should look for a "double-edged sword", that is, a characteristic than can be both good and bad. Based on the evidence above, it's likely the brothers were quick to act and natural leaders (like Peter) at their best and impulsive and loud at their worst.

When I saw my children misbehaving, before I corrected them I asked myself this question: Will that be a valuable trait as an adult? If so, I would demonstrate the flip side of the choice they just made. For example, if my children stubbornly refused to eat vegetables, I would argue that we have teeth both to cut (meat) and pulverize (vegetables) for a reason, much like any parent. However, I knew that standing up for themselves was going to be a valuable adult trait, one that would protect them, and pointed that out as well. Stubbornness is cleverly cloaked integrity and passion, isn't it? Being loud and assertive like "thunder" can cause trouble but it also makes for great leaders like James and John.

Study Questions

Feel free to answer any or all questions in the comment section below for interaction with fellow participants~Thx

1. What are examples of these dual traits from the life of you and your family?

2. Be aware that peering this closely into the lives of your family members may shine the light right back on you. What would your family say about your traits? What is the opposite of what they say? Which is good and which is bad?

3. What can we learn about our own strengths and weaknesses from the examples of James and John?

4. If you know someone who irritates you, put a name on the irritation and ask yourself if they also possess the opposite of that trait. Are you irritated because you have the same trait in its positive or negative form?

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At January 28, 2011 at 7:24 PM , Anonymous PrisonMentor said...

every positive trait can be misused, turning it into a negative! such as, a very positive trait of honesty can be turned negative: bluntness,indiscretion, outspoken brutality etc.
we are all a mixture of positive & negative traits, only JESUS can turn our negatives into more positives as we focus on Him & His Word. we cant change on our own

At January 29, 2011 at 11:51 AM , Anonymous Chris said...

When I see the "fools rush in" mentality in my own life, I try to slow down quick, practicing a think, then speak philosophy. I guess I'm getting better with age, although "impetuous" would sometimes be a good adjective for how I go about things (I don't always see it coming). As a musician, passion is part of my minute by minute living, and passion can indeed cause us many times to act, then think. Passion tempered with wisdom leads to better communication on our parts. Better communication leads to a stronger body. I have a saying I use with our worship team, "Knowledge minus application equals stupidity", the opposite would be "Wisdom equals the application of knowledge"... I think that many times passion can lead to us not applying the knowledge we gain. It's all in the suit that we wear, as the song goes. We just have to be sure that we intentionally put on the suit that best glorifies God.
My .02

At January 29, 2011 at 4:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is indeed tricky to be a parent. As my children get older and I see mistakes they make that are a reflection of myself it hurts and cuts deeply. Sins of the Fathers passed down. While I have repented of my own sins, it is still hard to see my own kids make those mistakes, however it does open it up for great discussion and I hope and pray that once they hear my story it will help them in wanting to change those actions.

At January 30, 2011 at 5:07 AM , Anonymous mcProdigal said...

I wrestle with what doing things "on our own" means, I think we all do. We are commanded to do things like "confess your sins one to another" (1 John 1:9) and yet we're told to "be anxious for nothing" implying that we prayerfully submit everything.

I think the truth must be both, to prayerfully approach a task then to do what God says.

At January 30, 2011 at 5:09 AM , Anonymous mcProdigal said...

I love that comment, Chris. I think embracing the idea that our greatest strength may also be our weakness frees us on both sides not to beat ourselves up too much, but rather to lean back toward prayerful reliance and obedience and flip the ball back into God's court as Linda suggested.

At January 30, 2011 at 5:11 AM , Anonymous mcProdigal said...

Chris, you open a whole new can of worms with the generational statement. I would suggest that you're entirely correct because I've lived with the deep cuts. Is it possible that there is as much or more to gain by addressing generational issues as we can see that there is to lose?

At January 30, 2011 at 8:49 AM , Blogger Marie said...

This is why I love studies like this. Not only are the studies helpful, but the comments from others also offer up great insight.

Many people do not consider that these negative traits can and are often used as positive traits.

I love how those closest to Jesus had many of these negative traits that we can personally relate to. We are reminded that as long as we are willing to be used that regardless of what is seen as negativity that the Lord can use that for His good.

Negative traits such as class clown, extreme shyness and impulsiveness can be viewed as tenderheartedness, detailed listener and confidence. But because it is far easier to see the negative in things, we tend to overlook the positive.

@Chris – thanks for sharing this – "Knowledge minus application equals stupidity", the opposite would be "Wisdom equals the application of knowledge"
I love it.

@Mike & @Richard – you guys are have a wonderful study going on over here! Thanks for the awesome insight.



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