Happenings, News

‘My sons went to do greater business with the Messiah’

We are familiar with James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who, together with Peter, were the closest disciples of Jesus. But who was Zebedee, their father, and how did he view his sons’ change of business plans? “Voices from Scripture” is a work of fiction in which we imagine the thoughts and feelings of some lesser known characters in Scripture, and so look at Scripture with a fresh perspective.

Voices from Scripture: Zebedee

I HAVE always wanted my sons to take over my business, and frankly, they’d have been good at it. Groomed them over the years in the trade, I mean, being a fisherman is more than just catching fish.

I learned it the hard way, so I didn’t want them to start all over again, just build up on what I’d done. But then, when your sons go off after the Messiah, and to do a greater “business”, what can you do? You can’t stop them.

You should have seen John in those early days: he may be younger but he sure had more fire than James.

He would come home in high spirits, full of what the Master had done or said – how Jesus had healed a man born blind and the ruckus that caused with the synagogue leaders.

He would repeat so many things that the Master had taught: that the Kingdom of God had come. The Kingdom of God is like a woman who kneads yeast into dough and makes bread, the missus loved that one!

How our little John was so excited when, maybe about a year after he’d join the Master, that he didn’t come back for a few days and then came back to tell us how the demons had fled at his command and he had preached the Kingdom of Heaven.

Isn’t that something, my boy a preacher? Our James was excited too, you could tell, though he’s more down to earth and thoughtful.

I would see him writing things down, discussing with John whether that was how it was the Master said. The two of them would come home and basically sleep for a day and then would be all ready to talk to me, their mother, the servants … anyone who’d give them time of day to listen about what the Master had done.

How the Master had taken five loaves and a bit of fish, blessed it, and fed a whole crowd. Then they went around giving the leftovers to all the villagers nearby and they had fun explaining where that food came from!

After a while, though, they didn’t come home very much, they spent most of their time travelling with their Master.

Then I heard that Jesus was crucified. Couldn’t find the boys then, they didn’t come home in those dark days. I wanted them to come back to Galilee and get back into the business, since their “Messiah” was no more. Then, maybe about a week after the Passover they came home. Couldn’t recognise my boys anymore, these sons of thunder!

James suddenly had a new stature and understanding. John looked like he had seen hope in the darkest place.

They simply said, “He is risen!” What they meant was that He who had died was now resurrected. He died, mind you, John was there and he saw it, then He resurrected.

He has a new body that was not bound by space and time, the boys said. I never knew I’d say this, but me and the missus found that we respected our boys. And we knew that they would never follow my footsteps. She said to me, that either I train up someone else, or we just might sell of the business and live off the income.

We went to their church once. It was strange sitting with slaves, but after a while it wasn’t important while we sang, read Scriptures, and prayed together. They’re a good bunch, and treated me well.

“This is Zebedee,” people would say, “James’ and John’s father.” Hmm … maybe now I’ll be about my sons’ business?

Kwa Kiem Kiok a member of Trinity Methodist Church, is on sabbatical at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, the United States.