How many of us, you, me or them, believe they are truly ready to meet the Maker? I know many of you attend church on a regular basis, you tithe religiously and you pray. But, the question is, are all those things enough? Jesus said he could not address the Corinthian Christians as spiritual, but as worldly mere infants in Christ. He said He gave them milk, not solid food, because they were not ready for it. Preparing for the return of Jesus is a life-long process. Your mother can’t do it for you, nor can your father. There are some things God won’t allow other people to do for you; just as there were certain requests made of Jesus only His Father could consider.
In the Book of Matthew we learn about a God-fearing woman named Salome, She was mother of Zebedee’s sons, James and John, also disciples of Jesus. And Salome was not just any woman; she was a follower of Jesus, sister of Jesus’ mother. She even traveled with Jesus through Galilee. She was also married to Zebedee, who by all accounts appeared to be a prosperous fisherman as scriptures indicated that he had “hired servants” (Mark 1:20).
Salome knew Jesus well, because she tended to His daily needs and had first hand knowledge of the Pharisees’ contempt for Him. In addition, Salome saw the crowds rejection of Jesus, which in the end that same rejection fueled authorization for his crucifixion. The bible indicates Salome’s entire family was committed to serving the ministry of Jesus. However, even though Salome knew Jesus well, one day she fell prey to her humanly side and behaved as most mother’s do. Salome made a request of Jesus on behalf of her sons. Like most of us she wanted to secure her son’s futures. Most likely Salome felt because her son’s shared a special relationship with Jesus, her request would be granted. This special relationship is also written about in Mark 14:32-34 when Jesus took them with him to the garden of Gethsemane, prior to His crucifixion, to keep watch while He prayed for the “cup” to pass from Him.
Salome wanted to be assured her son’s would have a place in God’s kingdom. In her mind, the best way to do that was to secure a place for her son’s James and John to each sit on either side of Jesus Christ. See (Matthew 20:20-21). Salome, a spiritually strong, confident and brave woman, knelt down in unquestionable devoutness, coupled with anticipation ….while preparing her tongue and lips to make her request known.
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” Matthew 20:20-21
Jesus denied Salome’s request, offering an explanation …….which pointed out that only the father could grant such a request. “Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” Matthew 20:23
The other thing here is Jesus was dealing with matters much more important than considering a request such as Salome’s. “But Jesus answered, that’s why he said ” you are asking.” He was also asking if John and James were prepared to suffer with him? Obviously Jesus was pointing out that there was more to sitting beside him than meets the eye. And, that is why God hand picks the one’s who will sit beside Jesus. In this stage of Jesus’ life He was preoccupied with carrying out the Father’s wishes for His son ….whereas Salome was fixated on Jesus granting her wishes for her son’s.
Two different agenda’s, one Holy and the other a little self-serving and maternal. It appears Salome did not become enraged when Jesus denied her request, which speaks to her genuine love and reverence for Jesus. As it is written, there is no indication Jesus’ decision to deny her request weakened her faith either. We can learn a very important lesson from Salome; one most adults have heard time and time again;”don’t shoot the messenger!” Jesus is a messenger of His Father and because of that He can only deliver what has been given to Him by Him.
The bible says, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.” 1 Corinthians 14:16
By no means was Salome a foolish woman; it seems she even came to fully understand what she was really asking of Jesus in the end. Initially her mind was focused on her desires for her son’s. Like many of us she put self first, just for a minute. Even though she loved God, she strayed from His purpose in a moment of weakness. Just for a while, in her life, it ceased to be about Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior. Haven’t we all been there, especially as mothers?
“Everything is permissible”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:23