And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:
I came across the meaning of the word, boanerges, which means sons of thunder. And I got to thinking about these men and their professions. They were fishermen and called by Jesus (Matt. 4:21). So, I imagine that these Galilean men were out on their boats, fishing, baking in the sun, hauling in their catch with their bare hands. They had to be very strong. Have you ever tried lifting something up out of the water? The water tugs at you and there's the sucking of the sea as you pull, a liquid resistance, if you will. I imagine their hands had callous upon callous because of the ropes that made up the net and the salty sea healing up those cuts (not to mention the fish scales slicing into their hands and the sea water working its way into the bleeding wounds). These men must've barked at each other over the howling squalls. These brothers loved being on the boats as much as they loved each other. After all, the brothers sat and mended the nets together.
As brothers are apt to do (I, too, have a younger brother and know this to be true), they tend to compete with each other; brag and exaggerate; tease about this matter or that; speak over each other; and, even finish the other's sentences, probably with a salty rejoinder to liven things up. Their silences, when they were busy at a task or angry at each other, were just as loud. No, these brothers probably weren't into clever banter. Just honest (and loud) talk with one another, as it should be among brothers. Maybe that's the reason they were called sons of thunder because they were boisterous, good ol' Galilean boys, roughnecks, who talked loud and live loud.
Don't you know that iron sharpeneth iron, Reader?
One illustration that we find in the Bible about these brothers' temperament is revealed in Luke 9:51-56. Let's read what happens:
"And it came to pass, when the time was come that [Jesus Christ] should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. 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? 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."
Can you see these brothers being indignant about how Christ was treated and how they backed each other up? I can. As an older brother, I certainly can relate to backing up my brother. They wanted Jesus to call down hellfire and smoke the Samaritans. Jesus, though, had other ideas in mind. He wanted to save and not destroy the people of Samaria.
Aren't you glad and grateful that you're no longer under condemnation (Rom 8:1-2) when you believe what the Son of God, Jesus Christ, did for you at Calvary? He's come to save you, too, and not destroy you. That is Good News, indeed!
As I read about what became of them in the Bible, I can't help to wonder what John thought or felt upon knowing that James had been killed:
"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." Acts 12:1-2.
I'm sure John grieved and mourned the loss of his brother while at the same time rejoicing that James was now with the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord (II Cor. 5:8).
John was banished to the Island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9). On that desolate Island,
John received visions of the future and the Lord's words were recorded by him.
The compilation of these visions and letters to the seven churches form the Book of Revelation.
As he lived on that island, I'm guessing that there were times he thought about his fishing days with his brother as he looked out into the bright blue Mediterranean Sea. He might've even got lost in thoughts of his youth and the joshing & joking that only brothers can know. I like to think that even though these men were in 2 different time zones (ie, temporally and heavenly), John comforted himself in knowing that one day he would be reunited with James. And both would hug and rejoice upon seeing each other and would bow down before Jesus Christ the King in gratitude for allowing them to share eternity together with the Lord of Lords.
All believers in Christ Jesus are brothers until the end. Are you one?
Eternity with Jesus can be yours, too. Here's how: The Plan of Salvation