10/19/97, P21B

Sons of Thunder”
Mark 10:35-45

olitics in the Church is nothing new and not always a devil. It only is when the devil gets into the politician-preacher-layperson. Sometimes God even sanctifies politics.

While in Rome I had the pleasure of getting to know my U.S. Congressman Buddy Darden and his Methodist preacher's daughter wife, Lillian. She actually was more of a "political anima1" than Buddy, who kind of lived above the fray. Lillian surprised the press during their tenure by repeating on severa1 occasions that everything that she had learned about politics was learned from her father Rev. Candler Budd. Indeed, Dr. Budd was the political power behind our
N Ga. Conference's narrow vote to establish our ministry to seniors, Wesley Homes; which has today turned into its own little empire and is ranked as a leader in geriatric care. Having known Candler Budd I can attest to his political savvy. Wesley Homes never would have happened without his own brand of politics.

It is arguable whether the Church itself would have happened without the political maneuverings of James and John, and especially their parents.

The late great Dean Tate of The University of Georgia was chairman of my first committee in our North Georgia Conference, Archives and History. He pointed out during devotional that the father of James' and John's name meant "thunder" and it was his contention that he must have been called Zebedee/thunder because of the ruckus he raised when both of his sons deserted the family fishing business at the same time in order to follow this itinerant preacher Jesus on the long dusty road. I think we can surmise that when "The Sons of Thunder" left Capernaum they were looked upon as failures, giving up a successful enterprise. However, the thunder quieted down and Zebedee must have eventually understood the eternal consequences
that his sons had given their lives for.

In Matthew's edition of the life of Christ he includes James' and John's mother, Salome, also coming to seek a favor from Jesus. In fact, it seems like her idea. The sons let her do most of the attempted politica1 manipulation. "My boys deserve to be in charge," was her p1ea. She was appealing to Jesus' charitable nature. After all, Jesus had treated them special, along with Simon Peter. John was called "the beloved" and already sat at Jesus' right hand at meals. James was a trusted member of the "Triad of Political Power."

It must have disappointed Jesus to be confronted with the fact that after three years of traveling and camping out most nights, that James and John, and their mother, had misunderstood the spiritua1 nature of the Kingdom he had been alluding to in his sermons.

Jesus asked them, "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (v.38, NRSV). In that age, to drink from a leader's cup was an idiom that meant to fully submit to the obedience to that leadership. In other words , James
and John would have to fully surrender to the same style of ministry that Jesus was to give his life for. This event seems to mark the moment when the two "Sons of Thunder" with such remarkable potential as future leaders, made the decision to totally take up their own cross and follow Jesus wherever that road led. After this watershed encounter there was no looking back from them.

The ten other Apostles must have sensed that something had changed, for they became "angry," or maybe we would say jealous. Jesus then explained the nature of spiritual leadership in his
burgeoning church to its future, dare we say, political leadership. Jesus put it something like this, "Out in the secular world it is practiced that leaders lord over their subjects, and are often tyrants over them, but this is not how it will be in my movement; rather, whoever wishes to become great must be your servant,
and whoever wishes to be first among you must be a slave to all." (see v. 43-44)

Servant hood, even slavery. This is not the reason these two brothers signed onto this band. They were expecting that the Messiah would rule the world and they would be his chief lieutenants. However, as they thought about the implications of Jesus’ words, they must have realized that his deeds had fleshed our the role of servant to all people. "For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." (v.45)

However, we can excuse James and John, even Zebedee and Salome, for we see ourselves in their political motives. Often we have gone into a job, or task, for all of the wrong reasons only later to learn that our venture of blind faith resulted in finding God's plan. It' trite but proven true that, "Hindsight is 20-20." Only in the present moment can we validate the steering of the Spirit through the meandering path we have journeyed along in our yesterdays.

When we learn to feel for the nudging of the Master's hand? Will we ever get experienced enough that we can one day truly submit and wait in God to show us his direction? Are we able to drink from his cup? Do you think that we can ever let the world go its way as we walk in His Way?

James and John learned how. 'They followed Jesus beyond the tomb. They were led by his Holy Spirit down from the Mount of Ascension and into most of the known world. James was eventually led to martyrdom and don’t you know that he felt an assurance of a mission carried out as he face death with dignity. John was the only one of The Twelve to escape execution for the faith. Christian tradition says that he died of old age on the Isle of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. It is said that when he was very old that the young people loved him on his bed through the streets as The Apostle of Love would proclaim to the city, "Love one another as Christ has loved you!" Finding His will is too precious a thing to miss out on. It is the one piece of the puzzle that makes all life come together.

The question for us is, "Are we able?"

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

10/19/97, P21B