The Editor’s Desk by Shawn McMullen
Who was this relatively obscure New Testament mother and what can we learn from her life?
She made an early mistake. Matthew describes the event: “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom’” (Matthew 20:20, 21).
Salome may have acted presumptuously from her own maternal ambition, or she may have been acting at the insistence of her sons. But either way, she asked for something the Lord wasn’t about to grant.
Jesus was gracious in his refusal, and no doubt Salome—along with James and John—learned a valuable lesson in servanthood from this encounter. But still, this outspoken mother must have felt the sting of the rebuke.
She didn’t let her mistake affect her service. It can be hard to bounce back after you’ve made a mistake or suffered embarrassment. But Salome didn’t let an early error keep her down. Matthew later writes about a group of women who stayed with the Lord (at a distance) throughout his crucifixion. He describes them as having “followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons” (Matthew 27:55, 56). Mark records the same event and identifies Salome by name (Mark 15:40. 41).
Salome may have made a misstep in asking special favors for her boys, but once she worked through the issue she simply moved on, devoting herself to the care of the Savior.
She served to the end. This faithful mother remained steadfast in her devotion to Christ even when it seemed all was lost. Mark records, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body” (Mark 16:1). The horrors of the crucifixion were still a fresh memory as Salome accompanied a small party of women to the tomb to anoint the dead body of the Savior. But her sorrow turned to bewilderment, her bewilderment to fear, and her fear to joy (see Matthew 28:8) as she and her friends stood at the tomb listening to the angel’s announcement of Christ’s resurrection.
Think about the opportunities Salome would have missed if she had allowed her early mistake to separate her from her Lord. She would have missed her opportunity to learn at the feet of Jesus as she followed him and helped care for his needs. She would have missed an opportunity to express her devotion to the dying Savior as he hung on the cross. And she would have missed out on the marvelous opportunity to be among the first to hear the good news about the resurrection.
She may have erred in her first recorded encounter with Christ, but from then on Salome seems to have seized every opportunity to be near him, to learn from him, and to serve him.
That makes her a very wise mother.