Jump Start # 2592
Matthew 20:20 “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.”
We celebrated Mother’s day this past Sunday. Our moms do so much for us and too often it’s a thankless job that is driven by love. No one loves those little babies as much as their mama does. Mother’s day always brings a mix bag of emotions. For some, their mom is no longer with them. That is my story. Worse, for some their relationship with their mom is not healthy. Mother’s day is not a day of smiles, memories and joy for these folks. It’s tense, painful and full of confusion.
Our passage today is about a mom. She was the wife of Zebedee. She had two sons, James and John, who were among the chosen apostles. Those two, along with Peter, made that tight inner circle with Jesus. So many times we read of Peter, James and John. This is their mom. She comes to Jesus. She has a request. She needs to ask Jesus something.
Now, remember, James and John are not in the third grade. They are grown fishermen. They are likely close to the age of Jesus, possibly around thirty years old. Mom, needs to tell Jesus something. Imagine your mom coming to your place of work and wanting to make a request to your boss. Most of us would run and hide. We’d be embarrassed. “What is she doing,” we’d think.
When the Lord asked her what she needed, she said that she’d like each of her boys sitting on either side of the Lord in His kingdom. One boy on the right side and the other on the left side. Top positions. Let my boys be vice-presidents of this operation. Put them right up there at the top. Put them right beside Jesus. Mama Z thought Jesus was going places and she wanted to make sure her boys were going to be included. She didn’t want them left out. She didn’t want them on the sidelines. Right side and left side, that’s were she thought her boys belonged. She wanted her boys in positions above the rest of the apostles. Only one person can sit on the right side of Jesus. And, only one person can sit on the left side. She wanted her boys covering those spots. No one else. Not one boy on the right and let the Lord pick who will be on the left. Not one boy on the right and Peter on the left. Not for this mamma bear. She is fighting for both boys. She wants them both up at the top. One on the right and one on the left.
The Lord’s first reply was, “you do not know what you are asking.” Mama Z didn’t get it. This wasn’t a ride to the top. This wasn’t a ground floor operation and in just a short time they’d be sitting in the penthouse suite. Jesus’ kingdom wasn’t like that. His kingdom, He told Pilate, was not of this world. His kingdom was spiritual. Jesus was about to drink a cup of suffering. He was going to be rejected, abused and murdered. Can they drink that cup, He asks her and the James and John? This isn’t the picture you boys were dreaming of. This isn’t going to turn out the way you think it is. They won’t be rich. No one will be opening doors for them, buying them meals and giving them keys to the city. Instead, it will be jails, hunted down, ugly accusations and serious threats against them.
Now, some lessons from this:
First, moms always want the best for their children. Sometimes moms close their eyes to any wrong that their children do and that is not healthy. No one is perfect. Some would rather sue the world than to admit that their little darling has done anything wrong. In teaching the principles of marriage, God said that a man was to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. That was first spoken in Genesis and the Lord repeated it in Matthew. Leaving is not about location, but maturity, responsible and able to stand on your own feet. But, this is a two way street. The man is to leave father and mother, and the father and mother need to let the child go. Problems arise in young marriages when parents interfere and try to run that household as well. Parents must understand the difference between something being spiritually wrong and just a difference in tastes and judgments. Your grown children will do things differently than you do. A time for a parent to speak up is when they see their child harming their soul spiritually. But if we are fussing with them all the time, they will just tune us out.
Years ago, I was walking with one of my kids, who was in college at that time, through a hardware store. We passed a line of toilets for sale. One was black. He’d never seen a black toilet. He loved it. Soon, we were walking by the appliances. He spotted a black refrigerator and stove. Then there was a black dishwasher he spotted. His mind was running. He said, “Someday, I’m going to get all those black things. I think I’ll paint the walls black.” I thought, that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. I said, “do you want to live in a cave?” But then I caught myself and said, “Go for it, if that’s what you want.” Is it wrong to have all black appliances and black walls? No. Can one go to Heaven like that? Yes. Would I do that? Never!
My son, Jordan preaches. He’s an amazing preacher. But I don’t like how he organizes his books on the shelves. Guess what? He doesn’t like the way I organize my books on my shelf. Can we both go to Heaven the way we are doing things? Yes. That’s what parents have to understand. Your child will do things differently than you do things. If it is not spiritually wrong, let it go and let them do it. Don’t nag. Don’t guilt them into changing things your way. Parents have to let their grown children go. Tough lesson for many of us.
Second, Mama Z, had some grand ambitions for her two sons. She wanted them near Jesus. You can’t get any closer than right hand and left hand. She saw something good in Jesus. She wanted her boys involved with what Jesus was doing. She didn’t want her sons just dabbling in this work. She wanted them fully invested. Right hand and left hand meant key conversations, intimate discussions, first to know things, advisors, deeply involved. She didn’t just want the boys to “go to church” once in a while. Right up there with Jesus.
Now, that’s a thought. What do moms today want for their children? Good grades. Meet someone cute, get married. Find a great job. Make as much money as possible. Play ball for a division I school? What about spiritually? How many moms today are thinking, “I’d like my boys to preach someday.” Or, “I’d like to see my boys be shepherds in God’s church someday.” Have you prayed those prayers? What are you doing about that? Are you putting them around those who would be great examples? Do we even think about our spiritual future of our children other than just become Christians? Do we think about how they can help the kingdom?
You just have to love this mother. She went to Jesus. She was bold. She was a bit forward. The boys would probably never say anything, she must have thought, so I will.
James and John—two apostles. The first apostle to die and the last apostle to die.
Let’s be putting some thoughts into our children’s spiritual future. That thought begins at home.