Saturday, October 16, 2010

1st Century Soccer Mom

Preface:  Way before there were SUVs and seemingly round-the-clock soccer or a myriad of other child-related events, most of us as mothers had some "soccer mom" in us.  We all want the best for our kids and want our kids to be the best.  We haven't all had the same opportunities or finances to haul our kids all over town to every imaginable type of lesson or activity.  But there is no denying we would welcome any chance to advance our sons and daughters so that they might be more successful.  It shouldn't be difficult then to understand why Solome, the mother of disciples James and John, would dare to ask Jesus if he would give her sons top jobs during his Messianic reign over the Jews.  We would probably do the exact same thing.  Though her request turned out to be inappropriate at the time, Jesus' response was patient and thoughtful.  He understands that moms will always be moms.

Solome tells her story.

"Yes, Jesus had said he was going to die, but we assumed his work has just begun.  My husband, Zebedee, and I, and both of our sons, James and John, were swept up in the contagious energy of his exciting ministry.  Everywhere Messiah went huge crowds followed.  He touched lives, healed the sick and he had even raised the dead.  It was amazing!  It was exhilarating!  We thought his influence could not be contained and would explode, finally leading to his Messianic rule from Jerusalem.

"I was overjoyed to follow Jesus and care for his needs.  It was as though he were my own son.  He nicknamed my boys 'Sons of Thunder' because of their enthusiasm and eagerness to assist him.  He and John had become best of friends.  We felt especially close to him.  He was family.  So as we traveled together to Jerusalem one bright sun-shiny day, it seemed perfectly natural to me to ask Jesus for a favor.   With James and John by my side, I kneeled before Jesus and asked him if my sons could have prominent positions in his kingdom.

"We gazed at him with great anticipation, waiting for his response.  But it was not what we expected.  He said he didn't think we really understood what we were asking.  He asked James and John if they could drink of the cup he was to drink.  They said, 'Yes, we can!"  But we were not sure exactly what he meant by that.  We felt he must have been referring to all that would be involved in his Messianic reign.  I wondered what else it could be.  His frequent references to arrest and crucifixion had troubled me.  But I put that aside because his influence and miracles were so impressive, it didn't seem possible that could ever occur.

"I began to feel uneasy as a wave of embarrassment swept over me. Then I knew for sure my request was not the best idea when things began to unravel.  Jesus' response had been patient and considerate, but the other ten disciples had overheard our conversation.  Before long, a heated argument erupted over who should be the greatest.  The ten indignantly turned on James and John.  Jesus had to step in to straighten everyone out, explaining the greatest must first become a servant.

When we reached Jerusalem, our hopes and spirits soared.  Jesus entered the city triumphantly with great fanfare.  But our dreams were quickly dashed to pieces when Jesus was indeed arrested a few days later just as he had predicted.  The adoring crowds turned vicious. This strong, tender-hearted young man had done nothing but good to others.  Yet he was mocked, slapped and spat on.  He was brutally beaten.  Even the execution soldiers were shocked at the extent of his wounds.  I watched with unbelieving eyes, determining not to leave him even though many, including most of his disciples, had fled for their lives.

The grim process dragged throughout the afternoon.  My son John had also stayed by him, comforting Jesus' mother, Mary, as she knelt in unspeakable sorrow before the cross.  Through parched lips and struggling for breath,  Jesus asked his dear friend John to care for his mother.  My brave son took Mary's hand and gently led her back to us.  Then Jesus died. 

Three days later, he was raised from the dead!  We were exuberant beyond words.  It was there, at the foot of the cross, that I finally began to understand what it meant to follow him.  How foolish of us to ask for prominence.  He had not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Mt. 20:17-28

(c) Joyce Catherwood 2010