Yesterday morning in church, my pastor preached out of Acts 12.
At the beginning of the chapter, Herod Agrippa I has just started his persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. Now the chapter is mainly about Peter and his miraculous release from prison. However, my pastor spent a while talking about v.2 of that chapter - a verse that I have read over and over again without really thinking about.
Verse 2 says that Herod killed James, the brother of John, with the sword.
But who was James?
James and John were two of Jesus' 12 disciples when he walked on earth, and since they were part of the 12, they were considered apostles by the early church. They were the sons of a man named Zebedee and had both left their father when Jesus came by their fishing boats one day and said "follow me." No hesitation. No questions asked.
Jesus described both James and John as the "sons of Thunder." They were almost always in His inner circle and spent much time learning from Him and seeing the miracles that He performed.
With a name like a "Son of Thunder," I can't even imagine the boldness and zeal that these two men possessed. That boldness is probably what caught Herod's attention. James was outspoken and loud about his faith and his God. He was a threat to Herod's hopes for power in Jerusalem. So he had him captured and killed. And the Jewish leaders of that day rejoiced for it. James was not the first Christian martyr (that was Stephen), but he was the first apostle to be killed for his faith in "this Jesus."
James is now considered a Saint by the Catholic Church and even the patron saint of Spain.
His brother John went on to live a long life and wrote the Gospel of John, which was an account of Jesus' life on earth. John also wrote many letters and also the book of Revelation.
This pair of brothers is an inspiration and encouragement to me. They decided to devote all of their passion and boldness and zeal to this Nazarene named Jesus, this Son of God.
Their impact has lasted millennia. And that impact will continue on in eternity.