Matthew Chapter 20- Part 3
Zebedee's wife (mother of James & John) and her desire- Read (Matthew 20:20-28)(Mark 10:35-45)
Zebedee's wife (Salome)came to Jesus with her sons, James & John and worshiped him and told him that he should fulfill a desire of hers. Mark, the Gospel writer, writes that it was James and John who came to Jesus with the request. On inquiring of what the request was, she replied, "Grant that these two sons of mine, may sit, one on your right hand, and the other on the left, in your kingdom." Jesus answered, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I am going to drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am going to be baptized with?" They said to him, "We are able." He said, "You will indeed drink of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it is for them for whom it is prepared by my Father. When the ten disciples heard this, they were displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to him, and said, "You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great, exercise authority on them. But it shall not be so among you; whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; for the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
There's no doubt that James and John harbored ambitions of power and according to Matthew, they let their mother Salome approach Jesus with the matter (Mark differs in this). It's surprising that they could dwell on such a topic when Jesus had just spoken of what he was going to suffer shortly. Perhaps they had misinterpreted Jesus statement of "the twelve sitting on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the regeneration" and were still thinking of a temporal kingdom of Jesus and so the desire to occupy prominent positions.
The cup that Jesus was going to drink and the baptism that he was going to be baptized with were the brutal sufferings that he would endure before he gave up his life on the cross after crucifixion. On asking whether they would be able to follow in the same path, the brothers replied in the affirmative, perhaps not realizing what they were saying. On seeing that a rift was developing between his disciples regarding the matter of prominent positions, Jesus pointed out to them that power and authority were desired by them who lusted after worldly things, but he had called them to minister to others and be servants rather than masters and he ended by giving his own example: "...the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
According to tradition, James was the first of the twelve apostles to be martyred for his faith. John, on the other hand, though he suffered much for his faith in Christ, including being exiled to the island of Patmos for a period of time, was the only one of the remaining disciples not to die a martyr's death. Judas, of course committed suicide.