A mother’s request

Farmville Enterprise February 27, 2019

Jesus described two of his 12 disciples as the “Sons of Thunder.” These brothers were fishermen.

“Going on from there, he [Jesus] saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:21-22)

Scholars have differing opinions as to who exactly was the mother of James and John. Some say she was the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary. Others believe she was Mary’s sister-in-law. Many think her name was Salome. We know their mother was a follower of Jesus, as we find in Matthew’s account of the crucifixion.  “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’ Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” (Matthew 27:54-56) In Mark 15:40 the gospel writer describes this scene naming one of the women “Salome.”

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’” (Matthew 20:20-21) This incident as recorded in the tenth chapter of Mark shows that James and John were behind the request.

Despite being sincere disciples of Jesus, the human nature of James and John crept in for them to ask for honor and special status. They had listened to Jesus teach in the synagogues and outside for almost three years. They had witnessed Jesus performing miracle after miracle. He healed lepers and those suffering from other sicknesses and diseases, made paralyzed people walk, fed 5,000, walked on water and fed 4,000. After seeing the humble and self-sacrificing nature of Jesus these brothers and their mother still were missing a major point of his message. We must take care not to do the same.

Jesus replied to their mother, “‘To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’ When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Matthew 22: 23-28)

According to John Calvin in his commentary on Matthew 20,This narrative contains a bright mirror of human vanity; for it shows that proper and holy zeal is often accompanied by ambition, or some other vice of the flesh, so that they who follow Christ have a different object in view from what they ought to have. They who are not satisfied with himself alone, but seek this or the other thing apart from him and his promises, wander egregiously from the right path. Nor is it enough that, at the commencement, we sincerely apply our minds to Christ, if we do not steadfastly maintain the same purity; for frequently, in the midst of the course, there spring up sinful affections by which we are led astray.”

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