Following Jesus 16

Are you like James? 

Following Jesus refers to being a disciple of Jesus. Being a disciple of Jesus entails following Jesus’ leading and learning from His teaching in order to take upon oneself, by God’s enablement, Jesus’ character.

We began our quest by looking at the character of Simon Peter. The second disciple we examined was Andrew. We now begin looking at James, the son of Zebedee. 

Followers of Jesus who are like James are ambitious and goal orientated. To be ambitious means to be determined; one who is constantly striving, motivated and single minded. This is how James thought. This is how James lived. 

Matthew 20:20-24 gives us an example of James’ ambitions and goals. “Then the mother (Salome) of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she 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.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20-28 ESV)

The mother of the sons of Zebedee. We believe she is the woman called Salome. She witnessed the crucifixion (Mark 15:40-41). She was one of the women who came to anoint Jesus’ body on resurrection morning (Mark 16:1). She was Zebedee’s wife (Matthew 27:56). 

It was at an inopportune time for such a request. It was just after the pointed prediction of Christ’s crucifixion. Perhaps James, John and their mother’s minds had been preoccupied with the words of Jesus (Matthew 19:28), about their sitting on twelve thrones and taking them in a literal sense. 

The mother of James and John, and possibly a sister of the Master’s mother (John 19:25), apparently prompted by her two sons because of the family relationship, now speaks for them. “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

The “something” put forward as a small matter was simply the choice of the two chief thrones promised by Jesus (Matthew 19:28).

What was the Lord’s response? 

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