Relationships – Jesus and James and John

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

  • John 1:35-42

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.

  • Mark 10:35-41

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.

  • Luke 9:51-56

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

  • John 19:25-27

A Quote

[John 19:26]: ”Jesus, as the firstborn and breadwinner of the family before He started His ministry, did not give the responsibility to His brothers because they were not sympathetic to His ministry nor did they believe in Him (7:3-5); and they likely were not present at the time (i.e., their home was in Capernaum; see 2:12).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

James and John were nicknamed the Sons of Thunder by Jesus (Mark 3:17).

James, John, and Peter were those chosen to both go up on the Mount of Transfiguration and guard Jesus while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Mark 10 Scripture above differs from the Matthew 20 Scripture in that it is their mother who entreats Jesus to set the brothers on either side of Him.  This need not be a contradiction.  It could be separate instances or one leading to the other.  But this indicates that these brothers were ambitious.

James and John were partners with Andrew and Simon Peter (Luke 5:7-10) in the fishing venture.

John was chosen to take care of Mary, the mother of Jesus, but James was the first apostle to die a martyr’s death (Acts 12:2).

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

John 1 speaks of Andrew being one of the disciples of John the Baptist (Baptizer) who met and followed Jesus.  With John’s style of not mentioning his own name in his gospel, many feel that the other of these disciples was John himself.  By the time he starts mentioning the disciple whom Jesus loved, we can know that it was John in the case of taking Mary into his home.

When we reach the book of Revelation, John is in exile on the isle of Patmos.  He had been the bishop of the Asia Minor churches.  But early in the book of Acts, he is in Jerusalem.  We can infer that he moved his ministry to what is now Turkey after Mary passed away.

With John possibly following John the Baptist, we might infer that James and John were seeking the Messiah.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

If John was one of the two John the Baptist disciples and one of the first disciples of Jesus who was called, it makes sense that they might feel especially close to Jesus.  They might feel like they deserved a place of honor, but when they asked, as Jesus said, they had no idea what that “honor” entailed.

James was the first apostle to be martyred, Stephen being a deacon.  And John may have been the only apostle left when he was on Patmos.  While they were brothers, their lives diverged drastically after Jesus ascended to Heaven.  There is quite a lot of room for filling gaps.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

After you look at Peter, James, and John, there is little known about the other disciples, and do we really know much about James and John?

They were fishermen, partners with Andrew and Simon Peter.  When they start following Jesus, they become part of His inner circle, along with Simon Peter, but that does not make them the disciples to sit at Jesus’ right and left hands.  Yet, they thought they should.  This points to the flaws within the disciples and their attitudes before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, when they began to understand what Jesus had been teaching them.  We should never be too eager to charge to the front and take the lead, unless we know God’s calling to do so.

And looking at that inner circle, James was killed early.  Peter was led to the cross later on, in old age.  John outlived them, writing much of what his contribution was in the Scriptures late in life.

God has a different call for each of us.  He has a different life span for each of us, but none of us should take it for granted that tomorrow is assured.  We must live for Christ today.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.
  • And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered.  Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
  • Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.
  • Understand that good cannot compromise with evil.
  • And sometimes you have to weather the storms, both in the home and in the world of public opinion.

A Closing Prayer

We look to You for guidance.  James and John asked for high positions in the kingdom of God.  They are two of the apostles and, with that, they share high positions.  But what we need to focus on is the call You make upon each of us and do that with the best of our abilities.  It matters not how little our task, it only matters what glory You receive in the process.
In Thy Name we pray,

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: