Bible Readings and Devotion for June 21 & 22, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for June 21 & 22, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
The Sons of Thunder, or “Boanerges”, was the nickname given to the Sons of Zebedee, James and John. We hear about this name in our reading from Mark chapter 3. We also see the list of the Twelve Disciples. James and John, along with Simon Peter, were core members of the group of twelve Disciples, also known as Apostles. James and John were given this name because of their personality. They were fervent and impetuous. Sometimes their actions or words were quick or intense beyond what was needed. We read about one of these telling actions in Luke 9:54, which reads, “When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”” Even so, the Lord called them to follow him.
They were part of these twelve men called out of their lives to follow Jesus. This was a lifelong calling for all twelve. They were first called to be “disciples.” A disciple is a person who is learning how to follow the teachings and ways of Jesus. As they grew and learned, these twelve men we then sent out to do God’s work of helping others and telling others of God’s message of the Kingdom of God. As they were sent, they were given the title of, “Apostles.” An apostle is one who is sent on a mission for God.
Following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Apostles went out on their mission. Church history tells of the various places they went. Some went into Asia, even as far as the mission of Thomas to India. Others went into Europe with the Gospel. Others, and especially Matthew Levi, went into Africa with the Good News of Jesus.
The life stories of the Sons of Thunder give us a summary of the calling of the Apostles, and ultimately of all who take the name of Christian. James went on his missionary journey in the area in and around Jerusalem. A decade or so after the Resurrection of Jesus he is put to death for proclaiming the Gospel. We read in Acts 12:1-2, “About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.” This was about AD 44. James, one of the Sons of Thunder, was the first of the Twelve Apostles to experience martyrdom, for he died in his witness to his faith in Jesus.
John had a very different story. One core element was that he was a faithful witness to Jesus Christ, and he went out into the world to tell of the Kingdom of God. He ended up in far western Turkey in the area near Ephesus. We have 5 of his books in the Christian New Testament. The Apostle and Evangelist John was willing to suffer and die for his faith. He did suffer persecution. Church history indicates that he lived a long life and died of natural causes around the year AD 100. In his later years he could not talk much, for he was weak with age. Even so, with what strength he did have he would remind the people of the church about a core teaching of Jesus. He would stand up and say, “Love one another.” When you read John chapter 13, or the first of his letters, you will see this is a prominent part of his teaching.
These two Apostles were faithful to the end, whenever that was to come. James died young for proclaiming the faith. John died an old man who did his best to continue to proclaim the faith until his final days.
We may or may not ever face harsh persecution for our faith in Jesus. We may or may not die as a martyr for Jesus. The core of our calling is to be faithful to Jesus and tell others of us his love all through our lives. The source of our strength and hope for doing this is in what Jesus has first done for us. In John’s first letter, chapter 4, verse 19, he reminds us, “We love because he first loved us.” This is a summary of all that the Lord has first done for us. With what he provides we are given the strength to stay faithful throughout our lives, no matter when we take our last breath. We are given the strength of faith to remain faithful to our last breath.
God of faithfulness, you bless those who are persecuted. Strengthen those who suffer for the sake of conscience. When they are accused, save them from speaking in hate; when they are rejected, save them from bitterness; when they are imprisoned, save them from despair. Give us grace to respect their witness and to discern the truth, that our society may be cleansed and strengthened; for the sake of our merciful and righteous judge, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.