The disciples, James and John, said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and destroy them?” Turning around, Jesus scolded them, and they traveled on to the next village.
Where would we be without Benjamin Franklin? For starters, we wouldn’t have any Ben Franklin department stores. And, without him, that oval in the middle of a fifty dollar bill would’ve been blank.
Seriously, though, Franklin was a genius. For starters, he invented the Franklin stove and bifocals. But, perhaps his most important invention was the lightning rod.
Unfortunately, Franklin’s lightning rod was not greeted with gratitude by theologians. Many devout churchmen believed lightning was God’s way of sending His wrath on a wicked world. Using a lightning rod, therefore, defied the will of God.
Franklin introduced the lightning rod in 1752. Three years later, an earthquake rocked Massachusetts – causing some preachers to shout that this was God’s punishment for the “Franklin rods” installed on some buildings in their state. Soon, Bible scholars in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain united in denouncing Franklin’s invention as heresy.
James and John were two of Jesus’ closest disciples. He renamed them the “Sons of Thunder.” Hmm, I wonder why?
As Jesus headed toward Jerusalem, he sent messengers into a Samarian village to get things ready for him. When the Samaritans, who hated the Jews, found out Jesus was going to Jerusalem, they refused to welcome him to their town.
What to do? The Sons of Thunder, eager to help, suggested they pray to God to rain down fire from heaven. That would teach them a lesson.
Jesus, however, did not scold the Samaritans; instead, he scolded his disciples for their snotty attitude.
Throughout the ages, some have thundered the message of God’s judgment so loud, the world can barely hear the words of God’s tender mercy. Unbelievers get the feeling God wants to destroy people. If James and John would’ve called down fire and destroyed that Samaritan village, how many religious people would have nodded in approval?
The church in San Nazaro in the Republic of Venice, was designed with huge vaults. The military saw the vaults as the ideal place to store a hundred tons of gunpowder.
In 1767, the church was struck by lightning. Not only the church, but much of the city was obliterated, and more than 3000 people were killed.
Suddenly, theologians made a startling discovery – “Franklin’s rods” did not defy the will of God after all. From that time on, cathedrals and churches installed lightning rods on their buildings.
James and John, the Thunder Brothers, wanted to pray for God’s wrath. They had yet to understand that Jesus, with all due respect to Benjamin Franklin, made the first lightning rod. He was the first lightning rod.
(copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)