by Kathy Lay
This Week's Verse: Mark 3:17—James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder).
When my husband was a baby, he crawled so fast that his parents had a tough time keeping up with him. Zipping here and darting there earned him the nickname "Bug." To this day when his dad calls, he says, "Is Buggy there?" (He also earned the nickname "Foghorn" as a baby, too, but I'll let him tell you about that.) ;-)
As noted in this week's scripture, James and John also earned nicknames. Just imagine the scene when Jesus imparted them...
Brothers J & J are approaching Jesus and the others. Jesus elbows Matthew in the ribs and whispers conspiratorially, “Check it out. Here come those Sons of Thunder!” Matthew chuckles knowingly.
Or maybe Jesus has each of his outstretched hands on James and John’s shoulders and very affectionately, maybe even squeezing in a few noogies, says, “I love your boldness, Guys. You are definitely my special Sons of Thunder and you’re gonna do great stuff for my kingdom.” I love that!
Sometimes the majesty of our King inspires such a sense of awe in us that it’s easy to forget his desire for an intimately personal relationship with us. But if you can ask yourself what nickname Jesus has for you, it could enhance that “closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24) aspect of our divine friend. Daughter of Mercy? Sister Sunshine? Oh Ye of Little Faith or Good and Faithful Servant? I can’t help but think of descriptive Native American-like names, too. I’d probably be “Little Big Mouth” or “Weeping Willow” or something along those lines! What might he call you? And even more importantly, what does that reveal about how God can use you?
Throughout scripture we see numerous examples of God changing someone's name in light something they've done or will do for Him. In appointing James and John, Jesus used a powerful noun that captured their dispositions. And remember, that special gift of boldness to be used for the Lord’s glory was the very same characteristic that drew criticism from others when the “Sons of Thunder” later asked to be seated at the right and left of Jesus.
In other words, the nickname can be a term of endearment or conviction--having a “thunderous” personality could be fruitful or lethal, depending on James and John. Had they been thunderous on their own, the results might have been disastrous. But being thunderous under the direction of Jesus bore precious fruit.
As we see in this wonderful example in scripture, God calls us according to our very nature—He gave it to us! And as James and John eventually learned to do, we also must submit it to His Lordship so He can grow us to our full potential.
So what’s your nickname?
Lord, we praise you that you call us according to how you created us! We're not random, but rather, purposefully chosen to be used in certain ways. How special that makes us feel! Show us a glimpse of how you regard us personally and what name you have for us, so that we can submit our predispositions right back under your authority. Not our will, but yours be done, Father. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Application: Think about nicknames you've been given by family and friends. Do these names reflect who you really are? What might your Lord call you in identifying your personality and characteristics? How can those traits further the Kingdom?
Isaiah 62:2 (NIV) The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
Genesis 17:5 (NLT) What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations.
Genesis 32:28 (NLT) “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
Isaiah 43:1 (NIV) But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says: "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine."