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James the Apostle

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1.      In our continued study of GREAT PEOPLE of the Bible

a.       We have looked at Amos, Habakkuk, Nicodemius, Nathaniel the apostle, Nobleman, Hannah and

b.      Tonight, James

c.       We have came across James in our study of Paul on Sunday nights

2.      James and his brother John  =  “sons of thunder.”

a.       Here is the guy who wanted to call down FIRE from heaven and destroy a Samaritan city

Luke 9:54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

b.      The Samaritans refused to be HOSPITABLE toward Christ

c.       We see here the intense nature James had for the Lord

d.      Yet Jesus REBUKED him

Luke 9:55-56 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

e.       This event led to the NAMING of James by Jesus

Mark 3:17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:


3.      James usually is men­tioned BEFORE John

a.       He was the OLDER brother.

b.      Prior to Pentecost James was MORE prominent than John

c.       John was always the ‘BROTHER of James’

4.      James was a FISHERMAN by trade

a.       He worked with his FATHER, Zebedee, and his brother, John.

5.      The story of his call is very simple.

a.       The first 4 men Jesus called were two sets of BROTHERS

b.      James had heard of Jesus and had possibly heard Him speak.

c.       One day Jesus passed by - James and John were mending their nets by the seashore.

d.      Jesus turned, looked at them, and said, “Come, follow me.”

e.       Imme­diately, they LEFT their nets and father and FOLLOWED Jesus

6.      Who is this James?





A.  James’ request

1.      In Matthew 20:20 we find James and John coming to Jesus with a request that each be allowed to sit on one side of His throne in his kingdom.

a.       Jesus then asked, “Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?”

b.      They replied. “We are able.”

c.       We know that they did NOT fully understand what Jesus was talking about

d.      I don’t think they knew He was speaking of His DEATH on the cross

e.       They just wanted an outstanding POSITION

2.      Remember Arthur Millers play “Death of a Salesman”

a.       We see ambition and courage Willie Loman

b.      He had spent years BLUFFING and PRETENDING

c.       Sadly his whole life proved to be a FRAUD

d.      He died in MISERY

3.      Might be that this play has been popular so long is that it is so REAL

a.       Like Loman, many find life has no real PURPOSE?

b.      We want GREATNESS, but we have not counted the COST of greatness.

B.    We all want to do GREAT things, but do we want to pay the PRICE for them?


1.     Some churches would like to GROW

a.       But they are NOT willing to pay the PRICE of growth.

2.     Some of would like to see souls SAVED,

a.       But are NOT willing to be­come PERSONAL soul winners 

3.     Some of would like to see more MISSIONARIES sent out

a.       But are NOT willing to GIVE that these missionaries may go?

4.     Thrones are reached only by the drinking of a cup

a.       A cup of suf­fering, service, sacrifice, criticism, loneliness,

b.      And maybe even DEATH.

C. James wished for a THRONE.


1.      Look what he got:

a.       Years of service, hardship, per­secution

b.      And finally, the headsman’s SWORD.

c.       By way of a CROSS, he gained a CROWN.

2.      The world’s idea of greatness is a pyramid with man at its peak, sitting on a throne.


3.      Jesus’ idea of greatness is an ‘inverted pyramid,”

a.       The nearer the peak the GREATER the burden, the HEAVIER the load.

b.      At the cross Jesus Christ reached the “peak of the pyramid,”

c.       There the burden of the world fell upon him.

Oh the bitter pain and sorrow that the time could ever be

When I proudly said to Jesus, All of self, and none of Thee,


Yet He found me, I beheld Him, bleeding on the accursed tree,

And my wistful heart said faintly, Some of self and some of Thee.


Day by day His tender mercy, healing helping; full and free,

Brought me lower as I whispered, Less of self and more of Thee.


Higher than the highest heavens, deeper than the deepest sea,

Lord, thy Love at last has conquered, None of self and all of Thee.



A. James had courage to STAND for Christ regardless of PARENTAL influence


1.      Apparently his father was a WEALTHY man

a.       He had SEVERAL boats

b.      He had many EMPLOYEES

2.      Can you image the hopes Zebedee had WANTING to pass on the business to his sons

a.       Then to have them DROP their nets and FOLLOW this guy Jesus

b.      There is no evidence in Scrip­ture one way or the other that Zebedee was SAVED

c.       It must have been HARD for him to accept his sons’ decision.

3.      James followed Christ in spite of ANY parental influence.

B.  James had courage to stand up for Christ in the face of hardships and dangers.

1.      Jesus sent out the Seventy as lambs in the midst of wolves.

a.       He warned them, saying, “Beware of men. They will scourge you; you shall be brought up before governors and kings. Brother shall cause his own brother to be put to death. Parents will turn against their children and children against their parents. You will be hated by the world.”

b.      James was true in spite of difficulties.

C.  James had courage to STAND in the face of DEATH.

1.      James saw Stephen as he was stoned to death for the PREACHING of the gospel.


2.      Jesus told James that one day he would drink the cup.

a.       James had the COURAGE to go on in the face of CONSEQUENCES.

3.    Wonder if we would have the courage to STAND up for Christ if we were ar­rested and warned that if we did not deny our faith, we would be killed?

a.       Would we have the courage to be true?

4.    When Lenin was asked how the Communist regime came to power in Russia during World War I,

a.       He is reported as saying that it was the failure of the masses to STAND up for what they believed.

b.      He said, “If there had been in Petrograd in 1917 a group of only a few thousand men who knew what they wanted, we never could have come to power in Russia.”

5.    Do we have the courage to STAND up for Christ in the face of perse­cution, hardships, and dangers?

a.       Are we willing to STAND up for Jesus regardless of the COST?


A. Let us look at his zeal

1.   He was always present with his Lord

a.       At the raising of Jairus’ daughter

Mark 5:34-37 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.  

b.      At the sending out of the Seventy,

c.       On the Mount of Transfiguration

Luke 9:28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.   

d.      In Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-37 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.


                   1.)  Sadly though the three SLEPT through this experience  

e.       At breakfast beside the sea

f.       In the Upper Room just before Pentecost

B. James was ZEALOUS in spite of little RECOGNITION


1.     It is easy to be on fire as long as one is in the LIMELIGHT

a.       When the light is taken away DOES the fire go out?

2.     There are only a FEW words in the New Testament about James

a.       Even his martyrdom seems to draw LITTLE attention

3.     These New Testament Christians were FULL of zeal

a.       All the persecutions could not DAMPEN their enthusiasm

b.      Jails could not HOLD them

c.       Their death only made the light of Christ shine EVEN brighter

C. Let us look at the death of James

1.      James’s name appears only TWICE in the book of Acts

a.       The FIRST is the listing of APOSTLES

Acts 1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

b.      The LAST time is a record of his DEATH

Acts 12:1-2 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

c.       Notice the sequence CHANGED here

1.)    Now it is James the BROTHER of John

d.      James was the SECOND apostles to die, JUDAS being the first

1.)    But he was the FIRST apostle to be martyred

2.)    Apparently this selection by Herod indicated that James was the BIGGEST threat

e.       But Herod did not enjoy his victory for long

Acts 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave NOT God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. 


1.      May our prayer be that we would have the spiritual AMBITION, moral COURAGE, and burning ZEAL of James

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