Highlights

A mother’s ambition for her children

Sep 2017    

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour 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 (NIV)

 

Like many Asian mothers, I have that “tiger-mom” streak in me, even now that I have adult children. I used to believe that the only way my children could have success in life was through academic achievement. If there were a modern-day Salome, that would be me.

Salome was a devoted follower of Jesus, the wife of Zebedee who ran a fishing business, and the mother of disciples James and John. She was also one of the three women who ministered to Jesus, witnessed His crucifixion, and visited the tomb.

Salome was a devoted follower of Jesus, the wife of Zebedee who ran a fishing business, and the mother of disciples James and John. She was also one of the three women who ministered to Jesus, witnessed His crucifixion, and visited the tomb.

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but 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.” (Matthew 20:22-23, NIV)

It is ironic that Salome made this request when Jesus was about to face His own execution. Jesus responded, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” James and John answered without realising the cost. Then Jesus said, “You will indeed drink from my cup…” By this, Jesus predicted the martyrdom of James and John. There was not going to be any earthly kingdom or deliverance from Roman oppression. It was the cup of pain and suffering that awaited Jesus.

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 20:24-28, NIV)

Jesus explained that the competitive and domineering system of this world is not the Lord’s way. The way to God is the path of humility and servitude. Salome was asking for positions of authority, but Jesus’ idea of greatness is servanthood, sacrifice and even martyrdom. Jesus served by offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind. After Jesus’ death, Salome would remember the anguished faces of the men who were crucified with Jesus, one on His right, and the other on His left – an ironic reminder of her request.

Salome remained as one of Jesus’ faithful followers and she handed down a rich spiritual legacy to her sons. Despite her erroneous perception, God’s purposes were fulfilled in her sons’ lives, although not in the way that their mother had envisaged.

James and John, together with Peter, were the only three disciples in the inner circle who had the privilege of witnessing Jesus’ glorious transfiguration. They also spent with Jesus His final and most agonising hours before His execution. James remained a loyal disciple and proclaimed the Gospel even after Jesus’ death and resurrection. John was the writer of five books of the New Testament and a pillar of the early church. On hindsight, God had indeed made Salome a proud mother.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are the things that define you? Is it your spouse’s success or your children’s achievements?
  2. What kind of healthy ambition can we have for our children?
  3. Are we prepared to surrender our best intentions and plans for our children to the Lord?

Reprinted with permission from The War Cry, May 2017.

Lieutenant Wong Peck Ee

was commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in June 2013, and has a Master of Divinity degree from the Baptist Theological Seminary. She is the Corps Officer of the Bishan Chinese Corps with her husband, Lieutenant Leonard Heng. They have two children – Phoebe and Philemon.

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