Accepted by God


“About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church.  He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword” (NRSV, Acts 12: 1-2)

Throughout the Gospels James is closely associated with his brother, John.  They were partners together in a prosperous fishing concern, being able to employ men to help them, which was unusual in those days.  They were among the first whom Jesus called to be his disciples and an early indication of their character is given us by the nickname which he soon found for them: ‘Boanerges’ – Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17) – an apt description of their hot-headed, but warm-hearted, dispositions.

On one occasion the inhabitants of a village in Samaria treated Our Lord with some discourtesy.  It was quite enough to provoke James and John into asking permission to call down fire from heaven to burn up the entire village in revenge (Luke 9:51-55).  At this time they had no idea at all that Christ’s Kingdom was to be one of love and persuasion; they were still thinking of it as a successful earthly empire, founded and held together by force.

And when they had learnt that the Kingdom would be established only at the cost of much suffering, and were themselves willing to pay the price, even then their minds were occupied with the rewards they would receive for their pains.  That is why they asked Jesus to reserve for them the thrones closest to his own and therefore conferring the greatest honour, a request which greatly annoyed the other disciples and called forth Our Lord’s solemn rebuke (Mark 10:35-45).

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