Chapter Six
The Apostle James
(Brother of the Apostle John)

There was a man named Zebedee who owned a successful fishing business in Galilee, and who had two sons named James* and John. These two brothers were fellow fishermen with Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. All four probably worked for Zebedee. One day while they were all out fishing, Jesus came to Andrew and Peter and performed a miracle causing a great catch of fish in their nets. Jesus then said, "I will make you fishers of men. Come and follow me." When Peter and Andrew left their fishing business, Jesus walked with them a little further down the shore on the Sea of Galilee and called to James and John to leave their fishing business as well. It is quite possible that the boat on which they were fishing was not far from Peter and Andrew's boat when they caught the great haul of fish. Seeing this miracle and hearing Jesus call to them would have seemed a privilege to James and John. Of course, both left their fishing business and followed Jesus. Matt 4:18-22, Luke 5:2-11 and Mark 1:19-20

*The Apostle James, the son of Zebedee and brother of the Apostle John should not be confused with the other two named James in the Bible. One was James the brother of Jesus, and the other was "James the Less" who was also an Apostle and author of the Book of James. Reprint 3003:1

The Apostle James was older than his brother John, yet they both shared very similar characters which were strong and devoted to Jesus. They received the nickname "Sons of Thunder" because of the zeal they had for their Master. One day when Jesus and the Apostles were about to enter the land of Samaria, Jesus sent James and John on ahead to purchase bread and supplies. The Samaritans asked them if the Great Teacher would recognize the Samaritans and heal their sicknesses, or if he would treat them as did the Jews—unkindly. James and John answered that Jesus was sent only to the Nation of Israel. The Samaritans were angry at this and said, "Very well, then buy bread and supplies from them!" James and John became angry in turn, and when Jesus arrived they said, "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down and consume them?" But Jesus rebuked James and John for this angry spirit. This is a good lesson to the Christian on the loving, peaceful spirit we should have toward all, even those who don't accept our message of truth. Reprint 4701 & Luke 9:51-56

The mother of James and John believed in the Lord Jesus and looked forward to his coming kingdom. It is thought that she is Salome, the aunt of Jesus. She might have witnessed the wonderful childhood of Jesus and the loving way in which he treated her sister Mary. Caring for Jesus very much and believing in his promises, she came to him and asked, "Jesus, would you grant that my two sons would sit on either side of you in your coming kingdom?" This might sound prideful to some, but to the Lord, it indicated that his cousins loved him so much that they wanted to be very close to him throughout eternity. If the Lord would have seen pride in the hearts of James and John, he would have reproved them as he did in the lesson of the Samaritans. But instead he said, "Ye know not what ye ask." He wanted them to be very aware of the difficult life it would be and asked them if they would be willing and able to live such a life of sacrifice. They both said "We are able," and they were willing to have faith and trust in the Lord's providence that he would help them in this responsibility. Reprint 3362 & Matt. 20:20-23

The Apostle James must have been a very special friend to Jesus as well as an Apostle. Jesus had three close companions among his chosen Apostles — Peter, James, and James' brother John. The special favor shown to these three was not a selfishness on Jesus' part to show favorites. No, it was a lesson to Christians that the Lord loves those who show to him a warm, sincere and zealous spirit. Peter, James and John were especially warm and zealous and always expressed great interest in what their Master was teaching. This made them more advanced in spiritual things so that they would be ready to appreciate the special privileges Jesus would grant to them. Reprint 2617

One such privilege for Peter, James and John was to witness the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead. Jesus allowed only these three, Jairus and his wife to be present to witness the miracle. What a thrilling experience to see before their very eyes the transformation of the young girl's pale, dead body to healthy colorful life! The Apostle James could truly help the Church in understanding the resurrection of the dead after he witnessed this miracle. Mark 5:21-24 and 35-43

This special favor to Peter, James and John was also shown as they witnessed the miracle on the Mount of Transfiguration. This was a most frightening experience to the three Apostles, but Jesus especially chose them to see the vision, because he knew they had a greater ability to understand the lesson. The Apostle Peter said that they were able to make known to the Church the power and glory of the coming kingdom because they witnessed this miraculous vision. 2 Pet. 1:16-18, Matt. 17:1-9 and Reprint 3345

Not only did the Apostle James witness Jesus' power in the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead and the glory of the coming Christ in the vision, but he also witnessed the sacrifice and great suffering required to accomplish these wonderful blessings. Jesus asked his special three Apostles to be with him in his most sorrowful hour. The night before Jesus was crucified, the Apostles went with him to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what was about to happen to him and asked his three dear brethren to go with him to watch and pray. Jesus knew of their great love for him and desired compassion from his friends. But even though Peter, James and John should have understood the needs of their Master, they fell asleep and didn't watch or pray with him. This is a most important lesson to all of Jesus' followers. Our Lord watched and prayed in this most difficult time, and as a result, he found great comfort and strength to win the victory unto death. But Peter, James and John did not watch and pray, and as a result, when their difficult times came, they became confused and made many mistakes. Of course, the Lord provided for them that they would soon learn the importance of prayer when they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But imagine how sorrowful they were when they realized they missed the privilege of comforting their Master in his hour of suffering. Reprint 2775 and Mark 14:32-42

The Apostle James lived a faithful life unto his Lord and spread the Gospel message wherever he travelled. Because James was an effective witness, King Herod Agrippa the First killed James with a sword to please the angry Jews. This was only 12 years after Jesus died for the same reason—to please the angry Jews. James truly fulfilled his Lord's prophecy that he would drink of the same cup as his Master. The Apostle James was a faithful example of loyalty and love for his Lord. He was and still is a firm foundation to the Church of Christ. Reprints 3003, 4346 and Acts 12:1-3

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