My boys- Wednesday. 2nd Week of Lent – Matthew 20:17-28

Honestly, what was this woman thinking? Jesus has just finished telling his disciples that he must suffer a horrible death and she pips in, curtsey et al, to ask for a ‘ public declaration’  of  positions and power, for her boys. Cleary she had heard that Jesus had given the keys of the kingdom to Peter and now she must have been wondering, ‘what are my boys going to get?’ Perhaps she may have noticed that Jesus’ inner circle of three consisted of her boys and Peter. It was this trio who were always around the Lord at those special moments, like the transfiguration. Would her boys loose out to the ministerial positions in the kingdom of Jesus? And so she moves in to outflank the rest, in favour of her boys. But has Mrs Zebedee put her foot into her mouth?

St Matthew, writing to a Jewish Christian community about forty years after Jesus’ death, does not want to embarrass James, the ‘hero of the Jewish Christians’ with such an embarrassing narrative. By the year seventy AD, James has become a house hold name among the Jewish Christians and to portray him as power seeking  monger and that too behind the skirt of his mother, would be outright embarrassing.  So Matthew, unlike the Gospel of Mark (written before Matthew) simply does not even mention the name of James and John in this passage. We only know later, in Matthew 27:56 that the sons of Zebedee mentioned here are indeed James and John. 

But before we run this poor woman to the ground for her ambitious dreams of glory for her sons, we must see in her, all mothers, who would like the same for their boys. It seems like the scriptures simply leave Mrs Zebedee in the poorest of light; not true. In Matthew 27:56 she is mentioned again, this time after Jesus’ death, as one of the three women who had ‘followed him from Galilee providing for His needs’. She does this respectfully from afar. This same woman filled with aspiration for position and power is now a humbler servant of Jesus. She has become a servant disciple, yet a courageous woman of faith who stands close to the cross of Jesus. What an amazing transformation and so unlike the disciples who struggled to understand the master till the bitter end.

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