Happy Mother's Day Salome!

Bible Book: Matthew  20 : 20-28
Subject: Faith; Rewards; Prayer, Mother

[Editor's Note: Though the sermon is entitled Happy Mother's Day Salome! this message contains thoughts fitting for any occasion. Dr. Kirksey reveals the blessings that comes for faith in Christ, and the rewards that ensue as a result of His grace.]


These words are belated, but well deserved. A study of history reveals Mother’s Day observances occurred for centuries in one form or another. Dr. James L. Wilson, Associate Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, shares, “In 1872, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Howe suggested the idea of a special day set aside to honor Mothers and celebrate peace, but the idea never took root. Never that is, until the early 20th century.

A couple of years after her mother's death, Anna Jarvis held a ceremony to honor her late mother. The experience so moved her, that she began a campaign to establish a formal holiday to recognize mothers. West Virginia adopted the idea in 1910, other states followed their lead the next year and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday of May ‘Mother's Day,’ a national holiday to honor mothers.

Something Jarvis could be proud of? Not exactly. A few years later, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a Mother's Day rally. Jarvis deplored the commercialization of the holiday and the way people used it to make profits. In 1923, she filed a law suit to stop a festival where the organizers were selling white carnations as a fund raiser on Mother's Day.

She didn't lead a campaign to begin this holiday so card companies and florists could make money, she wanted it to be a day that stirred sentiment in the children of the world. She was more successful in starting the day than stopping it. Regardless of some people's motives, the idea of honoring mothers was contagious.

Today, we thank the Lord for our Mothers and the care they give us. It is the right thing to do.”[1]

We read in Matthew 20:20-28, “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ So He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink 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 those for whom it is prepared by My Father.’ And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased 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 those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him 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.’”

Please allow me to introduce you to Salome. Salome is the feminine form of the name Solomon [2] and it means “peaceful”. [3] On this day we remember Salome the mother of James and John. From Mark 3:17 we read about, “James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”. However, in this message, our primary purpose is to learn about this remarkable lady, named Salome, and her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I. Salome’s bona fide relationship with the Lord

According to modern criticism, Salome was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. They cite John 19:25, where we read, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Others believe Salome was the sister of Mary the wife of Clopas. While we are not certain about these claims; one thing that is clear Salome was a genuine believer.

Salome was also a generous benefactor of Jesus Christ and His disciples. Dr. Luke writes in Luke 8:1-3, “Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.”

II. Salome’s bold request of the Lord

Possibly, Salome prayed “the Kaddish [which] is a prayer that praises God and expresses a yearning for the establishment of God's kingdom on earth.”[4]

In Matthew 20:20-21 we read, “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.’”

On the phrase “Grant that these my two sons—James and John”, Dr. Adam Clarke (1762-1832) comments, “In the preceding chapter, Matthew 19:28, our Lord had promised his disciples, that they should sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes. Salome, probably hearing of this, and understanding it literally, came to request the chief dignities in this new government for her sons; and it appears it was at their instigation that she made this request, for Mark, Mark 10:35, informs us that these brethren themselves made the request, i.e. they made it through the medium of their mother.”

Dr. Clarke shares the following on the phrase, “Ye know not what ye ask”, “How strange is the infatuation, in some parents, which leads them to desire worldly or ecclesiastical honors for their children! He must be much in love with the cross who wishes to have his child a minister of the Gospel; for, if he be such as God approves of in the work, his life will be a life of toil and suffering; he will be obliged to sip, at least, if not to drink largely, of the cup of Christ. We know not what we ask, when, in getting our children into the CHURCH, we take upon ourselves to answer for their CALL to the sacred office, and for the salvation of the souls that are put under their care. Blind parents! rather let your children beg their bread than thrust them into an office to which God has not called them; and in which they will not only ruin their souls, but be the means of damnation to hundreds; for if God has not sent them, they shall not profit the people at all.’

He must be much in love with the cross who wishes to have his child a minister of the Gospel; for if he be such as God approves of in the work, his life will be a life of toil and suffering. . .”[5]

Dr. J. D. (James Dixon) Douglas (1922-2003), Christian scholar, editor and author, explains, "James, John, and Simon Peter, who were part of a fishing partnership that included Andrew, Simon's brother (Luke 5:10), were a trio who attained in some sense a place of primacy among the disciples. They are found at the center of things—for example, when Jairus's daughter was raised (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28), on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13:3), and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33). It was James and John, moreover, who had earlier accompanied Jesus to the home of Simon and Andrew (Mark 1:29)."[6]

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explains in Prayer 101: Experiencing the Heart of God, “James and John had a praying mother who obeyed the basic rules for getting answers to prayer. First, she had the right attitude as she humbly came to Jesus, knelt at His feet, and stated her request simply and specifically. In his excellent section on prayer in The Institutes of Christian Religion, John Calvin lists reverence as the first rule of prayer, and this rule Salome had obeyed. Second, she claimed a promise, for prayer involves claiming God's promises, and Jesus had said that the apostles would sit with Him on thrones (see Matt. 19:28). Third, she exhibited great faith, because Jesus had just announced that He would be condemned to death on the cross (see Matt. 20:17-19). Why ask for thrones when He had a cross in His future? Finally, she and her two sons had agreed on this request, and Jesus had promised to answer that kind of prayer (see Matt. 18:19).”

Dr. Wiersbe reveals, “James was the first of the apostles to be martyred (see Acts 12:1-2). John was the last to die, but before he died, he suffered persecution and exile for the name of Christ.”[7] John found himself banished to the Isle of Patmos for the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 1:9).

III. Salome’s bodily responsiveness to the Lord

Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) confesses, "Some church members tell us that they will be absent in body but present in spirit -- one has a spooky feeling of preaching to ghosts! Then there are those who are present in body but absent in spirit. I'm not sure which crowd I'd rather preach to."[8]

Salome was not just present in spirit; she was present in body, soul, and spirit. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

Salome loved the Lord Jesus Christ enough to be present at two critical times in His life and ministry. These are watershed events in human history.

A. We see Salome at the cross where our Lord died.

Each of the writers of the Synoptic Gospels records this event. Please remember Matthew writes to the Jewish mindset, Mark writes to the Roman mindset, and Luke writes to the Greek mindset. Each fulfills his God-given purpose. For example, we read in Matthew 27:55-56, “And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”

Furthermore, we read in Mark 15:40-41, “There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.”

Finally, we read in Luke 23:26-31, “Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus. And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”

B. We see Salome at the crypt where our Lord laid.

Mark records in Mark 16:1-8, “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.’ So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

Dr. Luke reports in Luke 24:1-11, “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.”

Therefore, we see Salome in association with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the essential elements of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Paul writes, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

IV. Salome’s bountiful reward from the Lord

The Lord is faithful to reward the smallest thing. Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-42, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. ‘He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.’”

From Hebrews 9:27-28, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

All will face the judgment (Hebrews 9:27) and all believers will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ for reward in heaven (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10) as unbelievers will stand before the Great White Throne for retribution in hell (Revelation 20:11-15).


As I share in a message titled, “A Eulogy for Eunice” based on 2 Timothy 3:14-17, “Everyone has a biological mother with the exception of Adam and Eve. We read in the book of Genesis, ‘Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living’ (Genesis 3:20). So in a sense, Eve is the mother of us all.

Motherhood encompasses step-mothers, single mothers and spiritual mothers, as well as biological mothers.”[9]

May you come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Salome.

[1]James L. Wilson, 1000 Fresh Illustrations, Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp. [Note: Dr. Wilson cited http://www.chron.com/content/interactive/special/holidays/97/mom/history.html]

[2]Merrill F. Unger, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1988), Database © 2003 WORDsearch Corp.

[3]William Smith, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Database © 2003 WORDsearch Corp.

 [4]Available from: www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/kaddish.html Accessed: 04/21/12

 [5]Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary on the New Testament, Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.

 [6]Who's Who In Christian History, eds. J. D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort, assoc. ed. Donald Mitchell, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992), Database © 2005 WORDsearch Corp.

 [7]Warren W. Wiersbe, Prayer 101: Experiencing the Heart of God (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor ® is an imprint of Cook Communications Ministries, 2006), Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

 [8]Vance Havner, Pepper n’ Salt (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966 / Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1983), p. 79

 [9]Franklin L. Kirksey, “A Eulogy for Eunice”, Sermon Notes, (2 Timothy 3:14-17), Available from: http://sermons.pastorlife.com/members/UploadedSermons/sermon_1292.pdf Accessed: 04/30/12

 By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com



e-mail: fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210 © May 13, 2012 All Rights Reserved