By Marty Watkin (Mark chapter 3, verses 13-19 Jesus appoints the 12 apostles)
This week in Mark, I’ve been concentrating on the verses where Jesus dubs 12 people his intimates, those with whom he’ll spend the most time in the next 3 years. In fact, he’ll choose these guys over his own mother (who adores him), members of his own synagogue (wherever that worship community was, exactly), and people who have better social standing, better education, and better jobs. Really. How crazy is that.
Two of them are brothers James and John, who get a nickname from Jesus – Sons of Thunder. Sons of Thunder, powerful and persuasive. Was their nickname a compliment? Maybe more of a prediction. In Luke 9:54 they ask Jesus if it’s okay to take their newly-acquired power to drive out demons and instead use it to destroy some unwelcoming villagers they had just met. Sons of Overreaction and Conflict.
So, what nickname would Jesus give you, had you been in that intimate group of 12 apostles? Gentle yet Faithful, or Delightful but Likely to Procrastinate, maybe Tolerant and Forgiving, what? I am afraid Jesus would call me Daughter of the Whine. My most automatic reaction to unpleasant circumstances. And if Jesus called me that, I’d be embarrassed because it’d be so true. I’d hate it that He knew me well, and I’d try as hard as I could to change that nature of mine to complain and be crabby.
These blustery Sons of Thunder, James and John, don’t yet realize it but they have 3 years to turn themselves around. 3 years to absorb every action of Jesus — analyze his prayers over meals, discuss why he picks fights with some people but not others. Jesus chose them along with some other annoying personalities like Simon Peter, hah, the Rock, and Matthew the nerdy and perhaps unethical accountant. Why didn’t he pick the folks who would have been easier to get along with? Did his Dad make him choose these 12 – was Jesus not allowed to go with his first choices? And what would it have been like to choose, like Jesus did, an immature, bothersome group of 12 boy-men with which to spend the last and most important 3 years of one’s life. I feel for Jesus, any Savior really, who has friends like the Sons of Thunder and the equally undesirable Daughter of the Whine. Gotta be tough work.