May 8, 2022

A Godly Mother’s Request

Passage: Matthew 20:20-28

St. Augustine was from Numidia, North Africa and became one of the most prominent church leaders in history. But as a young man he was wayward – so much so, that it drove his mother Monica to tears. Quite often she fled to the church for solace, prayer and advise. In her despair, she would weep uncontrollably for her son. One day a
bishop noticed her painful cries, and asked her why she was so bitter. She told him of her wayward son, but the bishop assured her with these words: “Go in peace, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.” For 30 years Augustine's mother wept and prayed and finally he surrendered his life to Christ. He then became far more prominent than what Monica ever could imagine. I believe that the mothers sitting in these pews have been praying mothers and they will never quit praying for their children. And like many mothers you cried for your children on occasion and you cried
with your children. On Mother's Day we think of mothers more than just people who make lunches or pick up after their children and husbands. Mothers are more than doctors and psychologists and lawyers who defend their children. No, they were elected by God for tasks far more than what they could ever plan to do.
In Matthew 20 from verse 20 we read about a woman who is mentioned four times in the bible. Her name was Salome or many people refer to her as Mrs. Zebedee. She was a mother who never stopped wanting the best for her children. As mother of James
and John, who were with Peter part of the inner circle close to Jesus, she came with a request to Jesus. And at that time her sons were already in their adult lives. They truly knew where they were going with their lives. Let's hear this request again: “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: 21b. Salome had been criticized by many over centuries for the request she made. There are those who want to tell her, “You never go for the best seats. You get invited to take those seats.” Salome was full aware of
the teachings of Jesus about His kingdom. She surely heard the sermon about the least that will inherit the kingdom of heaven – those who are poor in spirit. Why then did she make this request?

First she wanted her sons To Be A Part Of God's Kingdom. My friends, can there ever be a greater task in motherhood than to seek that the children a mother brought into the world will one day inherit eternal life? I will never forget Bettie, a woman in my first ministry who had thirteen children. Her husband died just after the
last one was born. Bettie had real difficulty to make ends meet. One day she said, “I couldn't give any of my children a substantial sum of money or possessions, but I gave them by God's grace the most important thing – and that is to know God. I knelt with them in prayer from the time they could kneel.” Can you appreciate with me the great expectation Salome had when she approached Jesus. She might just as well had said, “Lord, I just want to make sure that both my sons will be with You in heaven...and Lord I want them to be as close to You as possible.” There were so many mothers from the
beginning of time who demonstrated the same aspiration for their children. Jochebed, the mother of Aaron, Miriam and Moses, went against the Egyptian law that the Hebrews weren't allowed to have more children. Motherhood was more important to her and the plan that God might have had through the life of that child. And so, it came into fulfilment in the life of Moses. He was hidden in a basket and placed in the Nile. Even the fact that he ended up in Pharaoh’s palace was something that didn't take the aspirations away she had for her son. If only he could be a part of God's plan. Hannah
took Samuel to the temple – she presented her son to God in a place that was to her knowledge the closest you can get to God. And her aspiration came into fulfilment when Samuel became a prophet and priest of Israel. Dear mothers in our midst, is it true that you live life each day with the expectation that your children and grandchildren
truly live their lives to the glory of God? That you will not stop until you have peace of mind that they live by the right agenda?

There is a second reason the mother of James and John made the request to Jesus. She had the aspiration for her sons To Be Active In God's Work. Salome witnessed how her sons became a part of the Lord's ministry from region to region. Great things have been shared about the partnership her sons had with Jesus. And she wanted that to continue. Through that hard work for Jesus and their faith in Him would they be rewarded to enter into God's heavenly realms. They were not there yet, but it was almost like she could see glimpses of heaven with all the saints in the presence of God. Salome didn't want her sons to come so close, but in the end they might not make
it like so many who turned away from Jesus' path. She wanted them to persevere and not quit with the most important mission they had gone on. We read in 2 Timothy 4 how Paul expressed that so many abandoned him – people like Demas who fell in love with
the world and decided God's work wasn't for him any more. Mothers, you will agree with the rest of us that there are many families where the father, mother and children committed themselves to God, but along the way children and husbands have gone their own way – yes even some mothers have gone their own way. You need to pray like Salome and all other God-fearing mothers of all generations that every member in a family will return to God. Pray that your family and all families will be like Joshua's
family when he affirmed, “As for me and my family, we will serve God.” But Salome had service in heaven in mind as well when she talked about her sons at Jesus' right and left sides. You know, so many people have the perception that in heaven there is no work. In Revelation 7: 15 we read, “Therefore, they are before the throne of
God and serve Him day and night in His temple.” Salome's aspiration for James and John was to be more than doorkeepers in God's heavenly realms. No, they still had to be active to bring sacrifices to God. As a mother, what is the picture you have for yourself in heaven and for your husband and children? Do you see yourself to be
actively involved in everything that will happen there?

On this Mother's Day we come before God to give thanks for the mothers in our midst for their love, devotion and sacrifices to their families. We also have memories of mothers who went before us. We treasure their influence in our lives. But then we pray
that God will continue to use you as people who will truly make a difference in every family and beyond. Happy Mother's Day.
Rev. Willem H. van de Wall