Quirky, Meaningful Relationships

Relationships. If there is anything to be learned from taking a closer look at the lives of Jesus’ disciples, this is it — meaningful relationships are what make life worthwhile.

And it’s not the big things that make the difference, but the winks, the nods, the half smiles, the playful teasing, the nicknames, the intimate conversations. Did Jesus do these things with his disciples? Or was it all business?

One of the most outstanding examples that Jesus did in fact relate to his disciples with the quirky intimacy of loving parental friendship, is found tucked into the listing of the names of his twelve disciples in Mark 3:16-19. In reference to James the son of Zebedee and his younger brother John (we know he was younger because it was customary in Jewish writing to list family members in birth order), Mark tells us that Jesus gave these two young men a nickname. He called them Boanerges which means “sons of thunder” or “sons of commotion.” In other words, when the two of these brothers were together, things were lively. There was an eager competitiveness that spontaneously erupted from them — and Jesus teased them about it.

Keep in mind, this trait was not always endearing. In fact, at times Jesus rebuked them for it — like the time the Samaritans did not welcome and assist Jesus’ band of travelers in Luke 9:51-56.  James and John triumphantly asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” Or what about the instance when the brothers privately jockeyed for the best seats in heaven in Luke 10:35-41? Jesus intimately conversed with the two about the error in their thinking, and then counselled the whole group when the other disciples got wind of what was being discussed and tempers started to flare. Oh yes, commotion is the right word.

The outstanding thing about Jesus, though, is that he did not let this sometimes annoying trait in James and John become a point of ridicule. He affectionately teased them about it. He related to them as they were and guided them to develop this dominant trait into a strength instead of a weakness.

And Jesus did the same with the rest of his disciples also. He built a meaningful relationship with each one of them using the quirky intimacy of loving parental friendship. But those stories are for another blog . . . .

Lord, teach us to do the same in the lives of our children. Help us to build meaningful relationships with our children and so point them to you. Thank you. Amen.

Check out my free activity: “Which Apostle Am I?” It’s a fun way for you and your children to learn or review the biblical facts about each of Jesus’ 12 apostles. Great for family devotions.

Enjoy God forever!

Susan Case Bonner

December 3, 2015