Luke 9:54, Sons of Thunder

And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

//In today’s verse, Jesus and his disciples pass through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans, despising Jerusalem, do not welcome Jesus on his way. So, James and John ask if the Samaritans should be destroyed by fire.

James and John, you may recall, were nicknamed the “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus, a reference to the two twin sons of Zeus. These two sons sat on each side of the throne of Zeus, the children of the sky, controlling thunder and lightning. Recall also the desire of J&J’s mother, who once asked Jesus if James and John could sit one on his left and the other on his right when Jesus came into glory. A glory which apparently was emphasized by consuming fire.

Thus in today’s verse, James and John refer back to the fiery prophet Elijah and his punishment of the prophets of Baal. In a contest to see which prophets (Yahweh’s or Baal’s) were serving the true God, Elijah called fire down from heaven. This was a perfect time, they reasoned, for Jesus to let them play with fire.

But Jesus turned and rebuked James and John, saying, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.” Jesus rejected the spirit of Elijah, and his treatment of those who espoused a different religion, in favor of a peaceful respect for religious differences. No sons of thunder that day.