I hesitate to use the word ‘important’ because it gives the thought that somehow the Lord ‘needs’ us.  In truth, the Lord can accomplish His will by using whomsoever He will.  It is true that the Lord used James to a great extent, so let us look at that. 

Let’s begin by reading the first time that James is mentioned in the Bible.  Matthew 4:18-22 says, “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.”  We see that the Lord called two sets of brothers to follow Him…Simon and Andrew, and James and John.  Because scripture customarily names the older brother first when speaking of them, I think we can assume that James was the older brother of John.  We learn there that all four of these men immediately obeyed the Lord when He called them into service.  These men would spend the rest of their lives in service to the Lord.

We read in Mark 3:17, “And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder.”  This is an indication of the zealousness of James and John.  It is also a comment on their fervency, their courage, and their boldness.  While we read of some of the actions of the Apostle John, it is interesting to note that every time James is mentioned, he is mentioned along with John. 

Peter, James, and John formed an ‘inner circle’ of the apostles.  We read several times in the scriptures where the Lord included only these three men in His activities.

*  It is in Luke 8 that we read of when the Lord raised Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter from the dead.  He took the three with Him as we read in Luke 8:51, “And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.”

*  When the Lord was transfigured and was seen with Moses and Elijah, He took the three with Him as we read in Matthew 17:1-3, “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.” 

*  When the Lord entered the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before going to the cross, He took Peter, James, and John with Him.  Matthew 26:36-38 tells us, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” 

Once, when the Lord entered into the town of Samaria, the people there would not receive Him.  We then witness why the Lord called James and John the ‘sons of thunder.’  We read in Luke 9:54, “And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?”  In the following verses, the Lord quickly corrected these two zealous brothers.

It was also James and John that requested the Lord to allow them a great position in the Glory.  We read in Mark 10:35-37, “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.”  These ‘sons of thunder’ exhibited their desire to sit with the Lord in Glory. 

The Lord allowed these three men to have a closeness with Himself that the others did not share in.  Though these men did not realize it at the time, they would soon play very important roles after the Lord had died, been raised, and ascended back to Heaven.  Peter became the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:7-8).  John became a prominent leader of the early church and wrote five books of the Bible: The Gospel of John, the three epistles of John, and the book of Revelation.  James became the first of the twelve apostles to be martyred.  We read in Acts 12:1-2, “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”  These three men were used mightily of the Lord.  We can learn valuable lessons by studying the lives of these three godly men.  (406.6)