John and his brother James were disciples of John the Baptist, the fiery prophet with a national following. Working in their father’s fishing business, the rough-and-tumble brothers acquired the nickname “Sons of Thunder.” In other words, they didn’t back down from much.
I’ve known some “sons of thunder” in my time. The wonderful ministry Victory Outreach reaches a lot of people from rough backgrounds, saints who might stay rough around the edges after they’ve come to Christ. It’s as if some of them go from gang life to being in God’s gang—unintimidated, speaking their minds, preaching boldly.
That was James and John. Even after following Jesus for some time, they wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy those who rejected the gospel. Decades later, in writing his gospel account, John spoke of a transformation that took place within him. He now saw himself as “the beloved disciple,” no longer the tough guy. He was telling the Greeks that Jesus was not just truth for head knowledge but truth for transformation of the heart.
Do you find yourself filling your head with knowledge about Jesus, yet you sense your heart isn’t being changed? Are you annoyed that your life is no different from day to day by the work of His Spirit in you? Jesus has come to transform you by His presence. In that sense, the real Word is not just information but the living God who dwells within you.
Jesus is also the real light who illuminates, revealing all truth. Carter Conlon, pastor of Times Square Church, tells of an encounter he had at a conference where he preached passionately on the holiness of God. After his sermon, he sat down next to a man who said, “I don’t agree with anything you preached.” When Carter asked why, the man said, “My God would never raise His voice with me.” Puzzled, Carter mentioned the biblical passage where Jesus took a whip into the holy temple to drive out the moneychangers. The man responded, “Yes, He did that, but that’s not who Jesus is now.”
Carter thought for a moment, then asked the man, “Tell me, friend—did your father yell at you growing up?” At that, the man dissolved. “My dad yelled at me all the time,” he said through tears. Carter ministered grace and truth to the man, ending by saying gently, “There is no such thing as ‘my God.’ There is only one God, and He can’t be yours or mine. We are His.”