In this lesson today we are going to see a Mother who wanted the best for her sons, but before I start let me share this with you:
When we are young, very few (if any) hold as much influence over children as mom. This morning we have read a scripture which is frequently used to illustrate seemingly negative things and rightly so. The story is of a mom trying to place her boys into the best seats in the house in the Kingdom. I say “the Kingdom” because this mom didn’t perceive that Jesus’ Kingdom would be in heaven, but still thought He was going to overthrow Roman rule. Let's not be too hard on this Mother because she only wanted what she thought was best for her boys. What Mom wouldn’t?Things Mothers Teach Us
- Mothers teach us about foresight: "Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident."
- Mothers teach us about logic: "If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, don’t come crying to me."
- Mothers teach us about maturity: "Eat your vegetables or you’ll never grow up."
- Mothers teach us about religion: "You better pray that comes out of the carpet."
- Mothers teach us about time travel: "If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
- Mothers teach us about contradictions: "Shut your mouth and eat your dinner!"
- Mothers teach us about contortionists: "Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck?"
- Mothers teach us about perseverance: "You are going to sit here until you eat every last piece of that broccoli."
- Mothers teach us about genetics: "You’re just like your father."
- Mothers teach us about the weather: "It looks like a tornado swept through your room."
- Mothers teach us about the circle of life: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."
Before I talk about this Mother I want us to see something about this family: This family made a decision to follow Jesus. I don’t know how, nor do we know where, but if we follow this family’s life we will see that they made a choice to follow the Lord. If we look closer we will find out that this mother was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus, so that made her the aunt of Jesus. Zebedee, the father of James and John, was a fishermen and had a thriving business on the Sea of Galilee . It is interesting to me that they were in partnership with two more men that became followers of the Lord, Peter and Andrew. This fishing business was so good that they had to hire other men to work with them. So members of this family that chose to follow the Lord were very successful people. In a perfect world that is the kind of family that God desires. But we don’t live in the perfect world do we? Most of the time in today’s world it’s the lady of the household that has to take the lead in spiritual life of the household.
Let's meet this mother, Salome. She was a mother with a determination. This scripture says that she was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John. Her name, Salome, means “peaceful.” As we already know, she was a follower of the Lord Jesus the Christ! She was at the crucifixion of Jesus. She was among those who brought spices to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. She was with the other women who saw that Jesus was gone from the tomb.
In Matthew 20:18 the Lord took His disciples apart in the way and said, "We are going to Jerusalem and the Son of man shall be betrayed and they shall condemn him to death." This was a very important lesson that His disciples needed to understand. The time had come for Jesus to drive home the truth of His kingdom work. He had taught them and they had not caught on to what he was saying. So Jesus said to them, "Come over here away from the other people and let me tell you again what is about to happen. Now here is what is going to happen..."
"Excuse me, excuse me, please."
Now I don’t know for sure but I think the boys were embarrassed that their mother would do this. Maybe they were they said, “Mother, what are you doing? The Lord is trying to tell us something! Mother, please don’t!"
But their mother was on a mission. So she went right up to the Lord and said, "James and John, come up here so the Lord can see you." And then she turned to the Lord and said, “I have a request. Let my sons sit with you on your throne, one on the right and one on the left.”
This sounds like a school mom when it comes to sports in this day. Have you ever been to a Little League game? Every parent thinks their child is the best. “Put my child in, Coach! He should be the starting. He is really good." You know, even though they may have no talent. It’s one thing when a dad has something to say to the coach but when a mother starts in, boy, you can feel for the coach.
We all want our children to be the best and we want what’s best for them. Mother Zebedee had heard Jesus say something about the kingdom. Jesus had just told them in Matthew 19:27-3: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”
Let's not be too hard on Mother Zebedee. In her mother’s heart she just heard that her boys would be on a throne! So she just wanted her boys to be first. After all, she is just a mother!
What lessons can we learn from her about the destination for her and family?
1. The Approach to Jesus.
First, she obviously knew that to get the best life had to offer that Jesus was the One, so she made it a point to come to Him. We see a mom’s influence is immeasurable. She teaches us to approach Jesus with both our needs and our desires and for a part in the kingdom of God.
Next, she brought her children to the feet of Jesus. Perhaps one of the outstanding positive lessons we can learn from such a questionable story is the importance of having our offspring with us when we approach our Lord. And think about this: her kids were grown! Whether or not her motives were pure matters little for what we can learn from her. She brings herself, her kids, and her requests to Jesus. The Bible tells us to bring our needs, families, and even wants to Jesus. The message of Jesus is always the same. It is, “Come to Me” or “Bring it to me.”
Mothers teach us all kinds of lessons but one of the greatest is to “bring all your cares to Jesus.”
2. The Attitude toward Jesus.
It is very interesting to watch children and discover that they carry the attitude of their parents. If a parent carries prideful, arrogant, or negative attitude, the kid(s) will pick up on that and, as a general, will project the same attitude as their parent. If a parent carries a positive, happy, and caring attitude, then the child will pick up on that. Mother Zebedee had a right desire but she had the wrong attitude when it came to her boys. We could say that she was very selfish. In fact, this attitude carried over to the boys. Look in Mark 10:32-40. We see the same scripture only this time it was the boys who ask.
Notice this mom’s attitude toward Jesus. This has been translated to say, "She knelt down before Jesus." The KJV says she came worshiping Him. Candidly, for all we may see that she did wrong, she taught her adult boys how to show respect to the Lord. The word worship literally means to kiss or lick the hand. This is a far different display of attitude than seems to be the norm today. Somehow, the respect for Jesus seems to be almost lost, even among believers. Do we truly feel the need to kneel before Him? Do we present an attitude of ultimate respect, or treat Him like one of us? A right decision will bring a right determination that will bring us to a right destination.
3. The Appeal for Jesus.
Matthew 20:21 gives us several visuals which we need to take to heart. Notice that when she comes to Jesus He asks her,“What do you want?” Think about how wonderful this is. The Son of God, the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Sacrifice for our sins, is concerned about what “we want.” To me this is nothing shy of amazing!
Jesus was truly interested in what this mom wanted.
Here’s the point; He didn’t have to ask her because, in His divinity, He knew what the request would be.
Yet, He asked. What a great reminder that when we come to Jesus, He is interested in our needs, wants, and desires; additionally, He wants us to tell Him our heart (whether good or bad)
For this mom, perhaps she was attempting to get her boys a “leg up” or maybe she was attempting to make sure they would be taken care of after she and dad were gone, but don’t miss this; she was honest with the Lord Jesus. God desires for us to be transparent with Him. This mom was transparent with the Lord.
4.The Awareness about Jesus
When Jesus speaks in Matthew 20:22, Mom is silenced. Why? Could it be that maybe, for the first time, she realized the seriousness of her boys walking with Christ. Maybe for the first time she caught on to the cost as she was looking into the eyes of the Lord ... and heard that those seats required the ultimate commitment.
Perhaps, when she heard His words, she wished she could take back her request. Think about this conversation. Jesus said, “You don’t know what you’re asking and how difficult this journey will be mom” and mom went silent.
When I close my eyes and see this picture, I see a mom who was attempting to get the cushy jobs for her boys and found herself in amazement at what she had done. Perhaps when Jesus turned to the boys and asked them, “Are you up for this job?” she had already changed her mind because, for the first time, she became aware of who Jesus was and what it was that He required.
I wonder how many times, people think they know what it means to follow Jesus and then through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, they become aware that what they thought was not entirely accurate. Some people think that following Jesus is only about a one-time decision that is made and left at the altar. Others think it’s only about being baptized. Others think other “things” (i.e. church membership, church jobs, etc). To become aware of what it is actually required of one who follows Jesus can range from surprise to shock.
5. The Acceptance of Jesus
As we read verse 23 and get the divine design for the Kingdom, we notice one important thing: Mom didn’t argue, discuss, or try to debate with the Lord Jesus, she accepted His words as truth. What a legacy! To have a face to face with the Lord of Glory is to walk away a changed person. While the scripture doesn’t track in details the wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John, this lady known as Salomé, we do see her at the cross and at the tomb of Jesus along with her boys! For me, this is conclusive that her encounter with Jesus led to her acceptance of Jesus and that of her Sons.
Of all a mother can do, giving her life totally and completed to our Lord Christ will have the greatest impact on her children. Here’s why: A mom sold out to the Lord Jesus is a mom who will display a life that demonstrates everything good and right. Because of this she will instill in her children a need to love the Lord, to walk in His way, and fulfill His calling. This brings me to a scripture that I read sometime when I think about my mothers. For you see I have had two wonderful mothers: my own mother and my mother-in-law and I loved them both very much.
“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellent them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:28-31Happy Mother’s Day, Mother!