Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Praying Mother—Mothers in Literature

It may seem strange to include a mother from the Bible in this series on mothers in literature. We place so much emphasis on studying the Bible and learning God's will for out lives from it that we sometimes forget that, really, the Bible is literature too. Of course the Bible is full of mothers, each one with a special story. I'm going to talk about one mother who doesn't have a very good reputation: the mother of James and John. What I have to say comes from a very powerful baby shower talk that my pastor's wife gave recently.

In Matthew 20, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time and along the way he is preparing his disciples for the tribulation that will soon come. "Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to him, kneeling down and asking something from him. And he said to her, 'What do you wish?' She said to him, 'Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in your kingdom.'" At this point people usually criticize this woman for being selfish and forward. But my pastor's wife pointed out that nowhere in this passage does Jesus condemn her. In fact, her prayer is really the same one that all Christian mothers make. She wants her sons to be close to Jesus.

It's what Jesus says next that should weigh heavily on every mother's heart. He turns to her two sons and says, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" Being close to Jesus does not mean sitting on thrones in shiny white robes, at least, not on this earth. James and John appear to understand that when they reply, "We are able."

The other disciples had the same reaction that we usually do when they heard the request of James and John, but it is them that Jesus chided. He gathered everyone around him and explained how thrones and glory work in his Kingdom. In the world, rulers and those in authority lord it over those under them, seeking power and recognition. But those who desire greatness in Christ's kingdom must follow the example of Christ himself who did not come to this world to be served, but to serve, "and to give his life a ransom for many."

When we mothers pray—as the wife of Zebedee did—for our children to be close to Jesus, we should know that we are not requesting an easy life for them. Are we ready to watch as they drink the cup that Christ drank and are baptized with the baptism that Christ was baptized with? We must pray holding fast to God's promise in Romans 8:28:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
God's idea of "good" does not always mean a life of "comfort" and "safety," two things that mothers greatly like to see their children enjoy. But when our children are called to His purpose, it will all work out for a good that is eternally glorious.

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