Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. Matt 20:20-24
Yesterday might have slipped by without you noticing that it was “St. James the Elder” day! Since they did not have cameras in those days I cannot be sure if this picture is accurate! However, St. James was the son of Zebedee. He and his brother John we know as the “Sons of Thunder”. They were devout men of faith and courage and it is likely that James was the first apostle to be martyred around 44AD.
As we read the stories of early martyrs or modern day martyrs we marvel at their faith and may at the same time wonder or doubt if we could or would ever be able to withstand such pressure. When I see accounts of people in other places lose their earthly lives because of their faith I think of the hymn verses in LSB (518). This is the verse designated for St. James:
O Lord, for James we praise you,
Who fell to Herod’s sword;
He drank the cup of suff’ring
And thus fulfilled Your word.
Lord, curb our vain impatience
For glory and for fame,
Equip us for such suff’rings
As glorify Your name.
(By All Your Saints in Warfare, LSB 518:21)
By ourselves we can neither obtain not maintain faith. It is God who equips and enables us in the most difficult of times. We couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to stand on our own, but I trust that God would enable us and strengthen us at such a time. We are thankful that He did just that for St. James and all other martyrs. By His Spirit and His grace we too are strengthened and enabled. Pray for martyrs today! They follow in the path of St. James and countless others!
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Eph. 3:14-2