Feb 18 2013 - Mark 3:7-30 – Tamed thunder
This morning we have read of Jesus choosing the twelve who will form his inner circle. Jesus will devote his time to them, teaching them and sending them out to minister in his name. Two of these are James and John, sons of Zebedee. Jesus gives them the name "sons of thunder" – the thunder boys (Mark 3:17). We see something of the character that earned them this name when they wanted to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan town that had failed to welcome Jesus when he was on his way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:50-55). They were fiery characters who were ready to respond with thunder (and lightning) towards those who opposed them.
Yet it is an entirely transformed character that we see later in John the apostle. John lived on into old age and when he was no longer able to speak at length, he would continue to exhort Christians with the words, "Little children, love one another." The whole of 1 John breathes this spirit:
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:9-12)
What accounts for this remarkable change in the character of John? His character had been transformed through being with Jesus. He had seen a different spirit in Jesus. Jesus had rebuked him when he had wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans. Jesus had not called for legions of angels to rescue him from his false accusers. Jesus had submitted to the agony of the cross crying out, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." John had seen the love of God in the person of the Lord whom he loved. And that same spirit/Spirit had reshaped his life. He had been transformed by Christ – by the love of God in Christ. And now he lives to proclaim to others what he has seen and heard and touched; to proclaim the love of God that changes everything and can alone offer hope and cleansing to a fractured world.
We see the same story in the transformation of Saul the Pharisee into Paul the apostle. Saul was an angry Pharisee on his way to Damascus planning the imprisonment, trial and perhaps even the deaths of Christians he could find in that city. He wanted them to suffer the same fate as Steven. But the risen Saviour encountered him on the road and his life was turned around. The notion of a crucified Messiah which had once seemed blasphemy to him now filled him with wonder: “The Son of God …loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). His passion was tamed and redirected into becoming a passion for Christ and for the Gospel; a passion to see the whole world acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and rejoice in the wonder of God’s transforming love.
Discipleship is the call to continual transformation as we learn of Christ and are refashioned into his likeness by his Spirit.
Living God, subdue my thunder by your love and redirect my passion to serve the Risen Saviour who gave his life for me. And by your Spirit, enable me to bring something of your love and peace to those whose thunder still threatens to tear apart our troubled world.