What would it have been like to have been one of Jesus’ closest companions? And one of the closest of the closest companions? Imagine being able to ask Jesus anything at anytime. Imagine watching how Jesus handled everyday things like traveling from place to place, or dealing with weather. This was a great privilege for James.
James, son of Zebedee & Salome, was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. He was a brother to John, also an apostle; together, they were known as the “Sons of Thunder”. He is sometimes referred to as “James the Greater” to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus (sometimes referred to as James the Less). He is traditionally considered to be the first apostle to be martyred.
– Call to Discipleship… Matt. 4:21,22; Mark 1:19,20
James was one of the first disciples to join Jesus. James & John worked with their father in the family fishing business. When they heard Jesus call them to “follow” Him, they immediately left their fishing nets and did so. They left their father, the family business, everything… to follow Jesus. We have no record they asked about the destination or the agenda; they simply followed.
What if Jesus came to your place of business and said to you, as He did to James & John, “Follow Me”. Could you? Would you?
– Call to Apostleship… Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16
– Transfiguration of Jesus… Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36
James was one of only three apostles Jesus selected to bear witness to His transfiguration.
James was part of the “inner circle” who was allowed to be part of some things the other apostles were not to be part of; raising Jairus’ daughter from death, the Transfiguration, Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane, etc.
– Indignant for God… Luke 9:51-56
James & John wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan town that “dissed” Jesus, but Jesus, instead, rebuked them.
– Wanting to Be Recognized as Great… Matt. 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45
James & John (seemingly prompted by their mother) made a bold, audacious request to Jesus. They wanted Jesus to give them the best two seats of honor when Jesus assumed His throne. That request didn’t sit well with the other apostles.
Do you want to be great in God’s Kingdom? Make serving others your life’s ambition.
– James’ Death… Acts 12:1,2
“Herod the King” (Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great) had James executed by sword (44AD). He is the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament, and is believed to be the first of the 12 to have been martyred for his faith.
It is interesting to contrast James’ execution with Peter’s release from execution (both mentioned in Acts 12). That James should die… while Peter was freed by divine intervention… is a mystery of divine providence.
You can read the story of James throughout the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) and in the first part of Acts.