We name things for all kinds of reasons. Names often times have a meaning or history behind them. The name of a place or person in the Bible may have a distinct meaning or purpose. It may refer to their place of birth such as Zerubbabel, ‘born in Babylon’. The name might describe the appearance of a child such as Esau, ‘hairy’. A village in the territory of Dan was called, Bene Berak, meaning sons of lightning. (Josh 19:42) You can only imagine how that town got its name.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus chooses James and John as two of His disciples and gave them the name,Boanerges, meaning “Sons of Thunder”. There’s not much said about the name, but I think it is safe to assume that they were not timid guys. Luke sheds a little light about them. They were willing to call fire down, ‘like Elijah’, on a Samaritan village that would not receive Jesus. (9:52–54) John also confronted someone casting out demons “because he does not follow us.” (Mark 9:38) They also asked Jesus to grant them to sit on His right and on His left in His glory. (Mark 10:38) They were passionate about being a disciple of Christ.
James was the first apostle martyred by Herod in 44 BC. (Acts 12:2) John lived a long time. Some believe almost to the age of 100. His passion as a disciple does not cease although it becomes infused with God’s grace. Jesus tempered them each time by revealing more of His will. When they wanted to call fire down, Jesus explained to them, “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9:56)
When John confronted the man casting out demons, Jesus responded, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.” (Mark 9:39) And when they wanted to sit on His right and on His left, Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them…Yet it shall not be so among you…And whoever of you who desires to be first shall be slave of all.” (Mark 10:42-44)
John and James were never referred to as sons of Thunder in Scripture other than this one place. I believe that their heart became a blend of grace and truth. (John 1:17) It didn’t change their personality, but it significantly affected their thoughts and actions. If the Lord named you at the beginning of your walk, what might it have been? For me it would not have been son of thunder – maybe son of fear. Hopefully for you and me it is different now – maybe son/daughter of grace, but most importantly son/daughter of Mine. (John 1:12)