BAR 33:03, May/Jun 2007
Biblical Views: The Martyrdom of the Zebedee Brothers
The sons of Zebedee—James and John—are two of the more enigmatic apostles. What ever happened to them? It is an especially pertinent question because of their request shortly before Jesus’ crucifixion. The story is told in Mark 10:35–45. They would like box seats in the Kingdom, on either side of Jesus when he comes into his glory. Jesus tells them that it is not for him to grant them such seats, but he makes a prediction: “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with.”
Jesus is predicting that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, will be martyred, as Jesus was soon to be, for their beliefs and witness. Was this prediction fulfilled? The answer is clearly “yes” in the case of James Zebedee. But what about John?