Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Mother's Request

If you’ve ever watched the show Everybody Loves Raymond you’ve seen an example of a mother who just can’t help but get in everybody’s business.  Marie claims that everything she does is for the good of someone else in the family, but most of the time, her motive is to make herself feel important.  However, there is no doubt that she loves her family, even Frank, her cantankerous husband.

Strange as it may seem, I was reminded of an episode of the show as I was reading my Bible this morning.  Robert Barone, Marie’s oldest son who is a police officer, and who never lives up to his mother’s admiration of his younger brother Raymond, was going to interview for a job with the FBI.  This job would be a great step up for Robert with more pay, and perhaps would command greater respect from his mother.  As he sat down for his interview with the FBI, his interviewer had a letter on his desk from Marie.  She wanted so badly for Robert to get this job, she felt compelled to write a letter of recommendation, giving reasons why Robert should be hired.  I don’t remember the contents of the letter, but Robert was humiliated, and didn’t get the job.  He was rightfully angry with Marie, and frustrated by her interference.  But as wrong as she was to send the letter, her desire was for something good to happen to Robert. 

James and John were the sons of Zebedee.  They were fishing in the boat with their father when Jesus called them away and invited them to follow him and be his disciples.  No doubt, this made their mother happy, as she obviously believed that Jesus was the Son of God. 

Matthew chapter 20 recounts a story of the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, requesting an honor for her two sons.  She knelt before Jesus and asked him for something.  “And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’  She said to him ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’”  When she made this request, not only were James and John standing there.  The other ten disciples were there as well.  Jesus gave her a very kind response, but the other ten disciples became indignant with James and John because of their audacity in allowing their mother to make this request of Jesus.  But then Jesus used this situation as a teaching moment.  He called all of the disciples to himself and explained that “even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”, any of the disciples who would be great among them must be a servant or a slave to the others.

The mother of James and John wanted them to be great.  She wanted them to be recognized for their faithfulness, even if it meant the other disciples would be seated in a lesser position than her two sons.  She probably loved her sons, but I wonder what her true motive was behind her request.  Perhaps it was that she would be exalted as her sons would be exalted while seated on either side of Jesus.  And what did James and John think about the request?  Unlike Robert Barone, they apparently didn’t object to their mother asking the question.

These men were faithful followers of Jesus who struggled with their weaknesses, just as we do.  But Jesus used them to do great things for his kingdom.  Jesus can use us too, despite our weaknesses, as servants of one another for the sake of his kingdom.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33 ESV

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