James and John, the sons of Zebedee, nicknamed ‘sons of thunder’ by Jesus himself, were models of the inefficiency of Jesus’ ministry. Christ called them into his inner circle to witness many of his miracles in person, miracles that the other disciples did not get to see. He brought them along with Peter to the mount of transfiguration, where they were given a foretaste, an appetizer of heaven displayed in Jesus’ glory revealed. He brought them into the inner room to witness him raising a little girl from the dead. These are a couple of amazing examples where Jesus involved them in his ministry of sovereign miracles.
Yet, when we turn to James specifically, what role does Jimmy Thunder play in the early church? He is the first martyr drawn home from the twelve, dying by the sword early in the book of Acts. He didn’t write of his intimate experiences with Jesus. He didn’t leave a written account of the refulgent glory of Jesus on the mount, or of Jesus’ precious tenderness as he raised the little girl with a gentle call and a helping hand. No, instead of Jesus selecting the ones he knew would bear the most fruit, write accounts of their treasured Lord, and testify before the watching world, he devoted time to a man who would only live for a few weeks past the cross.
What of us? Do we seek to make ‘strategic decisions’ on who we will disciple, aiming for optimized time invested and potential impact from that individual over the long-haul? Jesus had a wonderfully inefficient ministry with James, son of Zebedee, martyr of the church.