The 12 Disciples: James

The 12 Disciples: James

Typically when people think of Jesus’ closest disciples, they think of Peter and John, but there is one other disciple from Jesus’ inner circle that is often overlooked. 

James, the brother of John, is the eldest of the sons of Zebedee. Zebedee is implied to be a man of importance and wealth because of the men he would hire for his fishing business.

In the culture of Jesus’ day, it would seem natural for James to take the lead rather than John since he was the eldest, but there is a purpose for James taking the back seat in many Biblical accounts.

Jesus nicknames James and John the “Sons of Thunder,” implying that they had thunderous and unapologetic personalities. 

Matthew 4:21-22 describes Jesus’ calling of these brothers; “Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” 

James takes no time leaving his life behind to follow Christ. He is likely forsaking wealth, popularity and family esteem by following Jesus, but he knew Jesus was worth it all. 

In that moment, James leaves his whole life to follow the one who would one day give him life. He surely does not foresee the future that would follow as he made this decision, but he trusts that his life was safest in God’s will. 

As Jesus’ ministry continues, James is right by his side. He is present when Jesus shows the inner circle His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, and he watches as Jesus sweats blood in the garden of Gethsemane. 

On one occasion, the Samaritans begin to protest Jesus and his entrance into a village on his journey to Jerusalem. James takes a passionate stance for Jesus and asks him if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans. 

He is zealous of the things of the Lord and would give his all to protect Jesus.

James soon becomes the first disciple to lose his life for the cause he had lived for. Acts 12 speaks of the persecution of the early church where King Herod begins to annihilate believers. 

We see that Herod uses the sword to put James to death for Christ’s sake. 

James had lived three years under Jesus’ direct, intimate teaching, and, in that moment, he was reunited with his Savior and friend.  The disciple James was in the background for much of Jesus’ ministry, but when it came down to what mattered, James stood for righteousness and justice for his Lord.


  • Audrey Johnson

    Audrey is a sophomore majoring in elementary education. She is the religion section editor and a co-host of Tower Radio's podcast 'our high tops, His steps'.

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