20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered,“You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” - Matthew 20:20-23
One of life’s most unnoticed blessings is to be born to incredible parents. It might also be the biggest blessing that exist, and as I continue to mature in age and understanding, there is an ever-growing sense of the reality of how blessed I truly am to have the parents I have. Now, this devo isn’t going to be an encomium of praising one’s own parents, but in the backdrop of celebrating Mother’s Day this upcoming weekend, it causes me to reflect on the blessing that my own mother has been to me and to give thought to what drove her to champion her own kids’ lives and aspirations.
When we look at the mother, believed to be named Salome, in the scripture passage above, it can be easy to think to yourself, “Wow, that’s pretty bold to walk her sons up to Jesus and ask for such a high position.” Why would she feel they are entitled to that and not any of the other Disciples? Are the sons of Zebedee held in a higher regard than the rest of Jesus’ followers? While reading this scripture, we cannot forget that the sons of Zebedee, James and John, are grown men that have been walking with Jesus for some time. This passage goes on with Jesus saying that to be great, one must be a servant to others. However, this mom, like most mothers and their kids, knows how great her sons are and just wants them to be assigned next to Jesus.
I can picture myself as James or John and feeling quite embarrassed that my mother is bringing me to Jesus like that. Growing up as a socially anxious introvert in an outgoing, musical family, there has been numerous instances where people have approached my mom and marveled to her on how musically talented my siblings are (I might be biased, but my siblings are the most talented people I know), and my loving mom responds with, “Do you know who can actually sing??? Brady. Hey Brady, why don’t you sing something for these people right now while they’re standing here?” And as I sink into an onslaught of embarrassment and one of my greatest fears come to life, I must navigate myself out of this situation, like I’m in a canoe and I quickly realize I’m about to go over a waterfall, while my mom stands there, like any proud mother, just wanting people to see what she sees in her own kids.
When I was reading through the scripture passage, there was something powerful that I believe the mother understood and got correct. However misguided the approach and hopeful outcome might have been, she just wanted her sons to be close to Jesus. As an adult who loves Jesus, the greatest thing my parents ever did for me was to direct me to get close to Jesus. I’m thankful for a mom that consistently put her kids before herself. As the oft-quoted verse in Proverbs tells us to, train up our children in the way they should go, and as they get older, they will not depart from it, I’m thankful for a mom that trained us kids to serve Jesus by serving others. This lesson wasn’t just downloaded from several lectures from my mom, but rather, it was her own actions towards others that was the best guide possible. This reminds me of the saying, that especially for children, more is caught than taught.
My parents’ personal relationships with Jesus was the greatest instruction in life than anything else I learned. This mother, in the above passage, understood the power of proximity. If her sons were in proximity of Jesus, they would be safe and they would find purpose and success. She thought they were going to take down the Roman Empire and free the people of Israel! If you are a parent, you may be asking yourself how to raise your kids to live fruitful lives. The formula is easy but can be difficult to maintain. Consistently bring them before Jesus. Salome, James and John’s mother, could have asked Jesus by herself, but she brought her sons with her. Never underestimate the power of bringing your family to Jesus alongside yourself. Children tend to imitate their parents. What are your kids observing in you?
You may be sitting there reading this and did not grow up in the most functional home life. Rest easy in knowing that Jesus allows us to come to him, directly, and present our requests and abide in him. Matthew 7 shows us that Jesus just wants us to simply ask, and he will give to us freely, according to his will. As we all continue to mature in life, let us yearn to consistently to grow closer to Jesus. Our greatest witness is our own personal relationship with Jesus. We might not all have our own children in the future, but every single one of us has influence in other people’s lives. As I sit here, grateful, I am also challenged to honor my parents more by being a steward of the seeds that they planted in me to grow in Christ. I pray today, for you and I, to recognize the boundless love our Heavenly Father has for us, and to enlarge our capacity to give that love to others.