Peter was perhaps the most assertive and impulsive of all Christ’s disciples, but there were two others who also didn’t hesitate to react: Their names were “James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). Jesus Christ Himself described these two disciples as the “sons of thunder.” Here is one example of why.
Christ was going to Jerusalem by way of Samaria. He sent messengers to Samaria to prepare for His arrival. Thayer’s Lexicon says the Samaritans discerned His purpose; they realized He was only stopping over en route to Jerusalem. The Samaritans held Mt. Gerazim as their holy place, not Jerusalem, and were likely offended that Jesus was set on going on to Jerusalem.
They told the messengers, Let Him go to Jerusalem; He is not welcome to stay here.
When the “sons of thunder” saw this, as verse 54 indicates, there was apparently no discussion. They wanted to immediately call fire down from heaven to consume the Samaritans! (Luke 9:54). They considered this insolence and disrespect toward their Teacher worthy of instantaneous, fiery death. They reacted with a desire to destroy, displaying zero patience.
How did Christ respond? “But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” (verse 55).
What manner of spirit were they of? Christ knew it well. He knew who was the source of it and how subtle and tempting it could be. He knew how tempting their desire was to act immediately, impulsively, impatiently. How did He know?
In Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about the “titanic battle of the ages” confrontation recorded in Matthew 4: “This perhaps was the most important, momentous, decisive confrontation and battle ever fought in all time in the universe.” Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights to prepare. The Bible does not record that Jesus fasted like this even before His crucifixion; so this demonstrates how momentous this confrontation with Satan was.
Mr. Armstrong recounted Satan’s last-ditch effort to tempt Christ: “Next he took Jesus atop a high mountain, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. ‘All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.’
“Jesus did not deny that Satan was now over the nations of this world. This was a temptation for gaining immediate power. Satan well knew Jesus would inherit all these kingdoms more than 1,900 years later. But he tempted Jesus to take Satan’s word that he would turn them over and give Christ world power immediately.”
This was the greatest confrontation to ever take place. The most cunning, clever and deceitful being that exists, Satan, was in a do-or-die battle to stop Jesus from conquering him and replacing him as the ruler of this world. What did Satan use as his final trump card? He appealed for Jesus to be impatient.
The Bible contains only a simple summary of what actually took place. Imagine what Satan might have been saying to Christ: “Look, Jesus, I know you were born to be a king, and I am willing to back out of the way. You can have it all right now. There is no need for you to sacrifice your body and shed your blood; no need to let these puny human beings turn you into a bloody mass; no need to be scourged, pummeled or whipped like a dog; no need for you to get spat on and mocked. There is no need to watch all of your friends abandon you, there’s no need to allow puny men to drive nails into your hands and feet, for them to ram a spear right through you. There’s no need for any of that! You are to be the King of kings, and I am offering it to you right now—this very instant!”
Think about that. Man is on this Earth today, with his future spread out before him, because Jesus Christ was patient.
One of the key strategies Satan used in the most titanic struggle of all time was impatience. So yes, Jesus Christ was very aware of what spirit was guiding the sons of thunder. It was the spirit of Satan the devil. He was broadcasting the spirit of impatience!
We need patience! Satan wants to destroy us! Today he is continuously broadcasting the same spirit that he broadcasted to the sons of thunder in Samaria: impatience!
How many of our problems are caused by impatience? How often do we become impatient with other people, causing pain or hard feelings? Perhaps we are too preoccupied or worried about our own things to think about the needs of others, and when they come to us we are short with them. Then they become offended, and the spiritual Family hurts. How often are we impatient with our financial situation, allowing impatience to sink us in debt? Fornication: Doesn’t this come from haste? Lying: Isn’t this often linked to impulsiveness? Stealing, coveting, taking God’s name in vain: Aren’t all these sins brought on by Satan’s spirit of impatience? Doesn’t impatience make us lose faith in God to answer our prayers or to heal us?
This society has become saturated with Satan’s spirit of impatience—instant gratification. Don’t allow Satan’s society to manipulate you. If the salesman says, “It’s only good at this price for today,” then back off, seek counsel and pray about it. Don’t let others pressure you into making hasty decisions; don’t allow their haste to place you in a difficult situation. And don’t allow Satan to pressure you into being impatient with others, yourself or God.
If you impulsively decide in favor of immediate gratification, fun, excitement, ownership, or whatever it might be, you might receive a lifetime of misery, hopelessness, destruction and pain.
Evaluate some of the quagmires and troubles you may be in. Think of some of the situations in your life right now that you may wish you were free of. How many can you trace back simply to your impatience?
We need patience! Longsuffering is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. One of the definitions of longsuffering is patience. Notice that word: long suffering. Suffering means to endure distress or sustain damage. Sometimes patience means more than just waiting. It can mean “to wait or to endure for a lengthy time in distress or in damage.”
Jesus Christ has been waiting for nearly 2,000 years to begin ruling this world. In one sense, hasn’t He been waiting in distress as He sees mankind suffer continually under the deception and rule of Satan? Who is more anxious for God’s Kingdom, Jesus Christ or mankind? Jesus Christ is, of course. Yet He is patient.
Think of how longsuffering the Father and the Son are with you and me! Don’t we make mistakes and sin over and over—sometimes the same sin? Don’t we absolutely rely on God’s merciful, longsuffering patience?
We need God’s patience! We need to allow our Savior to live in us. We need to beseech God for more of His Holy Spirit in order to apply the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, including longsuffering. Proverbs 16:32 tells us, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
All too often, we see the immediate choice as the appealing one that looks mighty pleasurable—even irresistible. We don’t reason with God, we just do it. When you study God’s Word, notice how often tragic results have come from rash, impulsive, impatient decisions. God loves those who can govern their spirit. We will find ourselves in some trying situations at times. Will we skip impatiently to a carnal reaction? Or will we have the patience of Jesus Christ living in us?
Without the consent of Jesus, the sons of thunder did not have the power to bring fire down from heaven. But what if they had? Soon, they will have that power. And so will we. God wants to make sure that we will use it properly. That is why Jesus rebuked James and John sharply: to purge out that spirit of impatience that we all have. Patience is a characteristic a God must have, and James and John are going to be Gods. We have that same opportunity! So let’s grow in patience.