By R. W. McAlister
Mrs. Zebedee, the mother
of James & John, was aware of the teachings of
Jesus about His kingdom. She was also
very aware of the fact that her sons, James &
John, were close to Him. She was certain that when the
Lord formed His kingdom that they would have
positions of responsibility & authority.
So when the opportunity
arose (Matt 20), she came to the Lord. Matthew
says that she bowed before Him & made
this request (Mt. 20:21), “Grant that these my two
sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on
the left, in thy kingdom.”
We might very well
criticize Mrs. Zebedee for her presumptuousness,
but I think there are some valuable lessons we can
learn from her in these verses.
We also need to
recognize that when she came to Jesus, while Jesus
did not grant her request, neither did He deny it.
He simply reminded her of the cost of being seated
on the right or left & then told her that it is the
Father who determines who will be seated there.
Now, what are some of
the good things we can observe from Mrs. Zebedee?
First, it was her
heart’s desire that her sons might be part of the
kingdom, and she came to the Lord with this concern.
I can think of no more important task of
motherhood than that - to do all you can to ensure that your
children are a part of the Kingdom of God. That
should be your prayer.
I know that many mothers
pray. Sometimes they pray out of necessity.
Sometimes they pray because motherhood is
not easy, but extremely difficult. God wants us to
pray. The inspired Peter wrote in I Peter 5:6-7,
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand
of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all
your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Never
make the mistake of thinking you can handle
everything in life alone, especially if you’re a
mother. Humble yourself and ask for God’s help, knowing that He
cares for you.
Secondly, not only did
Mrs. Zebedee pray that her children would be a
part of His kingdom, but she prayed that they
would be actively involved in the work of His
It’s not enough just to
“show up.” Churches are full of people content
just to fill a pew on Sunday mornings, so
where does the spirit of service begin? It begins
at home, with mothers & fathers setting the example
& praying that their sons & daughters
might be involved in the work of the kingdom. That’s the way a child
should go, mother, for Solomon wrote, “Train up a
child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he
will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Train your
children to serve. If you have boys, encourage them to
be Christians – yes – but also preachers, deacons,
and elders. Train your daughters to teach Bible
class and talk to others individually.
Third, Mrs. Zebedee had
great expectations. She didn’t just pray that her
children would be doorkeepers. Granted,
she didn’t understand how these positions would be
attained, but she wanted her sons on the right hand
& left hand of Jesus.
When you’re working in a
kingdom, there are no higher positions than those
on the right & left of the King himself,
& that’s what she wanted for her sons.
We may consider Mrs.
Zebedee brash & presumptuous, and that’s not
wrong, but I admire her boldness. Too often we
have settled for mediocrity in the church. For too
long we’ve been content with just barely making it
through the door. For too long we’ve been content
to sit back & let things happen.
It’s time to strive for
excellence - to reach for the very best there is.
The Lord calls us to be His disciples, & to be
effective workers in His kingdom (Matt. 9:37-38).
Mothers: have great expectations of your children in the
Lord’s kingdom. Help them “be all they can be” in
the Lord’s army!
- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of
Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the
congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/