Friday, November 23, 2018

A Purpose and a Warning

As we go through this study of Becoming a Woman of Godliness, our key verses are:

Philippians 2:12-13
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

In this first session, we will see the purpose of this study unfold, and we will also see a warning to believers.  This warning is directed at us, and it is one that we need to take seriously.

Our text for today comes from Colossians 2:1-8:

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himselfin whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Paul is the writer of this letter to the church at Colossi.  He tells us that he words hard and struggles greatly.  Why does he do this? 1) for the Colossians, 2) for those at Laodicea, and 3) for those who have not met him.  Sisters, this is us! So all that Paul is writing by God’s hand is meant for us.  This is such an important thing for us to realize. The Bible is meant, not just for the people of the times that is was written, but for us in present day.

All three of the people groups that Paul is writing to are knit together in love.  This shows the unity of believers.  Why is he writing this letter? 1) so that their hearts may be encouraged.  We can all use some encouragement! And 2) so they will have all of the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding.  The word wealth here literally means money possessions and figuratively means riches and abundance.  The words full assurance mean entire confidence.

Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

Ephesians 1:18-19
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might

Ephesians 3:16
16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,

God’s grace is rich. God’s inheritance is rich. God’s glory is rich. Paul wants us to have the riches of the full assurance of understanding all of these things about God.  The result of understanding is a true knowledge of God’s mystery that Christ is available to the Gentiles.  In Christ hides all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Isaiah 11:2
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Romans 11:33
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

Paul is writing this, through the power of God, so there will be no doubt in our minds about ourselves as believers in God.  The riches we have in God are enough to keep us fully satisfied.  If we have the understanding of this, we will have treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  These treasures are in Christ Himself.  Everything listed in Isaiah is our treasure.  It is essential that we know God’s Word so that we can attain to the full assurance of understanding.  This is our purpose!  This is why we are living our lives, working out our salvation.  God wants us to be rich, and He has given us the path to full assurance of understanding.  God does not save us and immediately take us to heaven, although He could.  He allows us to live, and one reason is so we can work to become rich in Him and His wisdom and knowledge.

And now for our warning. In verse four, Paul says that he does not want the Colossians, the Laodiceans, or us to be deluded with any kind of false gospel or enticing words.

Romans 16:17-18
17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

Paul is with the church at Colossi in spirit.  He rejoices to see their good discipline.  He rejoices to see the stability of their faith.  Do you have good discipline in the Lord?

1 Timothy 4:7
But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;

There is a book entitled Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney.  In his book, he discusses eleven different spiritual disciples: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, learning, and perseverance. I highly recommend this book to you. In order to know what the Word of God says, so that we are not deluded with false gospels and enticing words, we must be disciplined to study the Word of God.

How stable is your faith in Jesus Christ?  In verse six, Paul goes into this. Now that you have received Jesus Christ as Lord, walk in Him! You are firmly rooted in God.  This happens at the moment of salvation.

1 Corinthians 3:6
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.

Now, since you have firm solid roots, you are being built up in Him.  Now you are being established in your faith.  Jesus will confirm you to the end.

1 Corinthians 1:7-8
so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our warning here is clear.  Know the truth of God’s Word so that you will not be poorly persuaded.  You are Christians – you have received the Lord as your Savior.  Act like it!  Walk in Him.  Paul says that the Colossians have good discipline and are stable in their faith.  How about you? Part of working out our salvation is being strong in our disciplines in the Lord.  We are firmly rooted in God – we cannot be pulled up from Him.  But, we now have to grow up.  Now, we have to come established in our faith.  We have to do as we are instructed in Scripture, with a thankful hear.

Look at verse 8. Paul says to be careful that no one takes us captive: 1) through philosophy, 2) through empty deception, 3) according to the traditions of men, 4) according to the elementary principles of the world, 5) not according to Christ.  Let us be secure and stable in our faith.  Let us know the truth of God’s Word so that we know when something is deceptive.  Let us walk in Christ, being built up in Him and being established in our faith.  Let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling, as God is at work in us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Today's lesson is all about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She is an iconic woman, famous to those who worship Jesus and to those who do not.  In fact, some people groups and denominations actually pray to and worship Mary.  This is completely against the Word of God.  We are to have no other gods before the great God Jehovah (Exodus 20:3). Mary is not a god, but she was chosen by God to be the earthly mother of His Son.

I love seeing the details of Mary's story.  She was an ordinary woman, asked to do an extraordinary thing.

Mary's story is found throughout the gospels.  We are going to focus on Luke 1:26-38, 46-55, 2:1-7, 22-52, and John 19:25-27.

Luke 1:26-38, 46-55

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Up until this point in Mary's life, she did not know that she was chosen by God.  Mary was perplexed to see an angel and to hear him call her "favored one."  She was a simple girl, living her life.  She did not know that she was favored by God.  The angel recognized that Mary was afraid, as are most of the people in Scripture who come across an angel.  He clarified his greeting to her and told her that she was favored because of God.  What an amazing thing to learn about yourself!

The message from the angel was very full:
  1. You will conceive.
  2. You will give birth to a Son.
  3. You will name Him Jesus.
  4. He will be great.
  5. He will be the Son of the Most High.
  6. The Lord will give Him David's throne.
  7. He will reign forever over Israel.
  8. His kingdom will have no end.

Of all of this information, Mary got stuck on the very first point.  I'm sure I would, too!  Mary knew the Scripture (we will see that later), so she knew Messiah was coming.  But, she didn't know until this point that she would be the one to carry Him in her womb.

Verse 35 gives us a representation of the holy trinity - Holy Spirit, Most High, Son of God.

In verse 38, Mary is saying that she is all in to doing the Lord's will.  Praise be to God.  Are you all in?  The Lord is not going to ask us to carry His Son, but He may ask us to do things that are way out of our comfort zones.  We have to trust God that His plan is the best plan, just as Mary trusted God with this plan.

The next section of Scripture that we are going to read is Mary's prayer.  This is a wonderful piece of Scripture where Mary quotes from lots of Old Testament verses.  I am going to show you each time that Mary quotes the Old Testament.

Luke 1:46-55

46 And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,

Psalm 34:2-3
My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.

47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Psalm 35:9
And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; it shall exult in His salvation.

Habakkuk 3:18
Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

Psalm 138:6
For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly.

49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.

50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.

Psalm 103:17
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.

51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

Psalm 98:1
O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.

52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.

Job 5:11
So that He sets on high those that are lowly.

53 “He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.

Psalm 107:9
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what was good.

54 “He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Genesis 17:9
God said further to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations."

What an amazing testimony to Mary.  She knew her Bible so well that she could quote it as her prayer of praise to the Lord.  Oh how I wish I could quote the Scripture like Mary did here.  She was a wonderful person, full of the Lord.  God knew that He would choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, and He prepared her life for that very thing.

Luke 2:1-52

1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Mary and Joseph made the 40 mile journey from Galilee to Bethlehem when Jesus was about to be born.  We see the manger scenes all the time at Christmas - people display beautiful nativities in their homes, in front of their homes, in front of business, etc.  All of those manger scenes depict Mary and Joseph all alone in the stable.  I would venture to say that they probably were not alone when Jesus was born.  If the inn was full, a lot of people had to travel to Bethlehem at this time.  More likely than not, there were others who had to stay in the barn with Mary and Joseph.  I would also venture to say that Mary had a midwife there to help her deliver her baby.

When the shepherds told the people what the angels said, "all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them."  This implies that there were many people there that night.  "But Mary" - lowly, humble Mary.  She didn't discuss it with anyone, but stayed quiet to herself.

22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 A Light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to offer the sacrifice that was required of them at that time.  They offered a sacrifice of a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.  Look at what Leviticus 12:6-8 says.

‘When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”

Mary and Joseph were not rich.  They were poor and humble.  They could not afford the sacrifice of a one year old lamb and pigeon or turtle dove.  But God wants an offering from our heart, not our checkbooks.  So in their humbleness, they offered two turtle doves or two pigeons.

Simeon identified baby Jesus as the Savior of the world depicted in Isaiah 9:2 and 42:6.  Mary and Joseph were amazed by this.  Anna also recognized Jesus as Messiah.  She knew that this was from God, a message too important to keep quiet.  Maybe it was all starting to make sense to them (the shepherds, the angels, Simeon, Anna). Or maybe they had not quite grasped it, yet.

41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Can we just stop and appreciate the fact that Mary and Joseph did not realize that Jesus was missing for a whole day?  This cracks me up - they were as human as you and I are.  They thought Jesus was with other people on the caravan, and they did not bother to check.  I wonder if Mary raised Jesus different from her other children because she knew He was God?

Three days later, they found Jesus in the temple.  Mother Mary was a nervous mother, looking for her Son.  But, "they did not understand."  I wonder if Mary lived her whole life trying to understand about her Son being God?  One of the biggest aspects of motherhood is disciplining our children.  It is our responsibility to make sure that our children learn right from wrong, and that they act accordingly.  Mary did not have to teach Jesus right from wrong, as He was God.  God wrote the law of the Old Testament to show people how they sinned.  God sent Jesus to be the payment for our sins.  Jesus knew no sin and became sin for us so that we could become righteous as He is righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).

John 19:25-27

25 Therefore the soldiers did these things.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

In Jesus' death on the cross, His mother was by His side.  I wonder if Jesus explained His death and resurrection to her as He did His disciples?  As Mary always treasured things in her heart, I wonder if this was one of those things?

In all things (impossible or not), Mary served the Lord.  She was very knowledgeable about the Scriptures, she was humble and meek, she took time to think things through, and she was God's chosen servant.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Becoming a Woman of Godliness

As we move into a new season of study, with a brand new Bible study before us, I wanted to share how this study came about, and what verses drove this study to what it has become.

I have been teaching through Women of the Bible for the last four and a half years.  That study was quickly coming to an end, and I did not know what direction the Lord wanted me to go.  I thought I was going to go through names of God and Jesus, but it just didn't seem to be the right thing.  I asked my husband to pray that I would know the will of the Lord, and I asked my pastor to pray the same thing.  I decided to take a break from studying the names of God and study Galatians and Colossians instead.  These were two books that I had not yet studied for myself.  I am on a quest to study every single book of the Bible, and I am keeping a record of what books I have studied so far.  Galatians and Colossians seemed to be calling my name (or rather, God seemed to lead me in this direction), and so I dedicated some time to these books.  As I studied through them, Galatians specifically, I began to put a series of lessons together on how I should live my life as a Christian. 

This led into me looking back in my notes of Ephesians, Philippians, Romans, Hebrews, and other books of the Bible, and bringing together this series that I am calling, "Becoming a Woman of Godliness."  There are two main verses that are driving this series of Bible study lessons:

Philippians 2:12-13 
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  What does this mean for us on a daily basis?  It is God who is at work in us.  GOD is working in ME! What an amazing thought!  He [God] who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  God will continue this work in us until we are glorified.  God is working in us, will continue to work in us, is perfecting us, and will continue to perfect us.  We are to work out our salvation.

This series of Bible studies contains 17 different lessons, with a couple of them being two parts.  Since this is a once a month study, this will last well into a year and a half.  I am excited about sharing this study with you, as I have grown more, been humbled more, and have come to more of a true realization of how I am to live my life as  a Christian through this study.

Here is the list of lessons and Scripture that we will look at over the next year and a half:
  1. A purpose and a warning - Colossians 2:1-8
  2. Did Jesus not work out our salvation on the cross? - Ephesians 1:1-23
  3. Justification, part 1 - Galatians 2:16-3:29
  4. Justification, part 2 - Colossians 2:9-3:3
  5. Justification then sanctification - Colossians 1:9-23
  6. Old self vs. new self, part 1 - Ephesians 2:1-22
  7. Old self vs. new self, part 2 - Colossians 3:5-17, 23-25
  8. The Holy Spirit in us - I Corinthians 2:12-16
  9. Deeds of the flesh vs. fruits of the Spirit - Galatians5:16-26
  10. Sanctification - Ephesians 3:14-20
  11. How should we live our lives? - Romans 11:33-12:21
  12. How to live in the new self - Ephesians 4:1-2:20
  13. To live is Christ - Philippians 1:21-2:15
  14. Approve things that are excellent - Philippians 1:9-11, 4:4-8
  15. True Christians - Philippians 3:1-14
  16. The armor of God - Ephesians 6:10-18, Romans 8:35-39
  17. Discipline - Hebrews 12:1-11
  18. Responding to other believers by examining ourselves - Galatians 6:1-10
  19. Glorification - II Timothy 2:11-13, Philippians 3:12-16, 20-21, Galatians 5:5, Colossians 3:4, II Timothy 4:7-8

I pray that the Lord will use this study for His honor and glory.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Today we are going to look at Salome, the mother of James and John, the Zebedees.  James and John were two of the twelve disciples of Jesus, and we learn through this study that Salome helped take care of them and Jesus asd He ministered to the people in the Galilean region.  John is the disciple that wrote the gospel of John and the book of the Revelation. 

Salome appears in the Scripture in Matthew and Mark.  We are going to look deeply into her story in Matthew, and we will briefly glance at her appearance in Mark. 

Read through Matthew 20:17-28. 

Matthew 20:17-28 
As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” 

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” He said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and oMy left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” 

And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation 

At the beginning of this section of Scripture, Jesus is preparing His disciples for His death, burial, and resurrection.  Salome clearly knows Jesus.  She has been with Him for a lot of His ministry on Earth.  She has cared for Him, cooked for Him, cleaned for Him, and did all of those other things that mothers naturally do for people.  She has heard His teaching.  She has witnessed His miracles.  She truly believes that Jesus has come to set up His kingdom on Earth. 

Back in Matthew 19:28, Jesus told the disciples that they will sit on twelve thrones with Jesus, as He sits on His glorious throne.  Salome heard Jesus say that, and as a mother, she was ecstatic that her boys would get to sit on glorious thrones with Jesus Christ. 

As human nature shows its face, Salome asks Jesus if her boys' thrones could be the ones directly to Jesus' left and right.  She already heard that they were getting their own thrones.  But, she wanted the best thrones for them - the thrones closest to the King, the thrones that would elevate her sons above everyone else.  Salome was thinking that Jesus was going to have an earthly kingdom, and this kingdom had to be soon.  She was getting ready for the near future. 

Come on, mommas.  Don't we all want the very best for our own children?  Don't we want our children to be recognized and honored?  Of course we do.  Salome was thinking what all mothers tend to think.  She acted on what a lot of mothers would act on.  She was as human as they come, doing for her children what she thought was best. 

Jesus uses Salome's request to teach us all a very valuable lesson in leadership and servanthood.  He does not shut Salome down.  He does not criticize her for asking such a selfish question.  Instead, He teaches.  He starts off by telling her that her request is far more than what she thinks it is.  Jesus asks James and John if they are willing and able to bear the cup that is to come.  The disciples immediately answer, yes, of course!  But, they have no idea what Jesus' future is, and what their future is.  Jesus' future is to be tortured and crucified, not to go to Jerusalem and sit on a glorious throne to rule the Earth.  But they still do not understand. 

Jesus responds that the disciples will indeed drink of His cup that is to come.  And sure enough, they do.  In Acts 12:2, we learn that James was put to death by the sword.  In Revelation 1:9, we learn that John was sentenced to exile on the island of Patmos.  They both ended up facing torture and death, just as Jesus did.  But, that is still not what they were expecting in this conversation.   

As for who will sit on which throne, Jesus told them that is not His decision, but God the Father's.  And, just as Jesus said in Matthew 19, the twelve disciples are sitting on thrones in heaven.  Who is sitting where?  I guess we will just have to wait until we get to heaven to see for ourselves (come quickly, Lord Jesus!). 

But, Jesus did not leave it at that.  He taught us all a valuable lesson about leadership and servanthood in the next few verses.  Jesus shared with them that traditional rulers were just that.  They were rulers.  They commanded, and others had to listen and obey.  But, if we want to truly be great leaders, we must humble ourselves and become servants.  We must be willing to do and serve, not just rule and dictate. 

In verse 27, I see the words "just as."  This indicates a comparison.  Jesus wants us to be like Him in all we do.  Here is another clear example.  Leaders must be servants, just as Jesus was a servant to His disciples. 

If Salome had not asked her question, wanting to make sure her sons got what she thought they deserved, we would not have received this beautiful lesson on being a servant from Jesus. 

In Mark 15:40-41, we see that Salome was a witness to Jesus' death on the cross.  In Mark 16:1-8, we see that Salome was one of the women who prepared spices to put on Jesus' dead body in the tomb.  Salome was a faithful servant of Jesus.  She helped take care of Him during His time on Earth.  She watched Him die.  She was going to anoint His dead body.  She was one of the first to see the angel at the empty tomb. 

Salome helps us remember our place as mothers, leaders, and servants.  We need to provide the love, safety, security, and belief that our children need.  We must meet the needs of our children.  But, we must also remember that in order to be great (in God's eyes and in the eyes of those around us) we must be humble servants.  Not those that do things for recognition, but those that do things to serve!