Jump Start # 2864
Matthew 20:20 “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Him with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.”
There are times when a person reads something and they can feel anger, embarrassment, or even guilt. What they read brings all kinds of feelings and emotions to the surface. This is one of those sentences. Mama Z came to Jesus wanting something for her boys. Moms do that. I’ve coached enough sports to have a parent holler from the stands, “Put my kid in, coach.”
What makes this passage odd and embarrassing is that the “boys,” weren’t really boys. They were men. Likely, they were in their 20’s or even 30’s. What’s worse is that our passage tells us that her sons were with her when she made this request. She didn’t go behind their backs. She didn’t do this without their knowledge. Imagine your mom showing up at your work and asking your boss to give you a promotion. Very embarrassing. Very uneasy feeling it leaves.
This mother wanted her two sons to be on the right and left of Jesus. Not just in the organization. Not just near by. She wanted them to be the ones who would be right next to Jesus. No one could be any closer. This mother was pushing for her sons to be at the very top. And, this demand caused the rest to be upset. A few verses later, “And hearing this, the ten became indignant at the two brothers.” Indignant because of their boldness and gall to ask such things, or indignant because they hadn’t thought about this themselves?
The Lord uses this occasion, once again, to teach the disciples that rising to the top is not the way to excel in the kingdom. In fact, excelling in the kingdom, wasn’t part of the language of Jesus. It was serving humbly and being thankful that one can even be used at all.
As bold and awkward as this request may seem, there are some valuable qualities we can miss if we are not careful.
First, she believed in Jesus and His work. She may not have fully understood the nature of the kingdom, as the disciples did not fully understand, but she knew she wanted her sons close to Jesus. She recognized that this was a good thing and this was something her sons needed to be involved with.
Second, the request to be on the right and left of Jesus would mean hands on involvement in the Lord’s work. It is those closest to the president who are advisors and are aware of the details of what is going on. So, it would be with her sons. They would have the ear of Jesus. They would be able to make suggestions. They would know before others did. She didn’t want her boys left out. She didn’t want them with just one toe in the work of the kingdom. She wanted them right there next to the Lord.
Third, she had big expectations for her boys spiritually. Jesus was the Messiah. His work was healing and teaching. She was not asking for herself, but rather, for her sons. She wanted them right along side of Jesus.
And, when we look at these three points, we must think about our sons, our daughters and our hopes and dreams for them. Are we pushing them to be superstars in sports, or to make buckets of money, but giving very little thought about what price has to be paid to acquire those things? Do we want them next to Jesus? Do we want them engaged in doing what the Lord was doing?
This mother had already seen things in her sons. One can’t help it. Following Jesus closely had an effect upon one’s heart. Kindness. Goodness. Serving. Thoughtful. Putting people first. All of those things we get from just reading about Jesus. Imagine having walked with Him for those few years. Jesus was good. This mother saw that. Having her sons near Jesus would only be a good thing.
I wonder in how many homes do moms and dads talk to their sons about preaching? I wonder if that thought is discouraged because “you can do so much better,” is what is emphasized. What about serving God’s people by leading them one day? The more these things are openly talked about and discussed, the more likely better choices will be made in who they date and who they marry. Young men marrying pretty girls who have no spiritual interest will often find themselves divorced within a few years. And, to please worldly minded girls, they allow their faith to die. Attendance drops. Questionable activities increase. More hanging out with those in the world than fellowshipping the people of God. And, maybe some of this can be avoided if we had more moms pushing their sons to be right next to Jesus. This request was off base, but her desire to have her sons with Jesus is something that we must admire.
I’ve seen the empty, pitiful look in the eyes of older saints whose kids have zero interest in the Lord. They are too busy chasing the world, having a time of their lives, and want nothing to do with Jesus. When mama dies, they’ll call for the preacher and painfully endure a funeral sermon, but then it’s right back to where they left things off. Running full steam to a train wreck spiritually, never thinking about what will happen when they die.
The wife of Zebedee came to Jesus. She bowed. She asked. She wanted her boys to be next to Jesus. Maybe we do well to do the same ourselves. Is it our prayer that our boys and our girls be right next to Jesus? It’s a good time to have this conversation. Do so before rings are bought and emotions get into the way.
Right next to Jesus…what a wonderful place to be.