Walking Among Them: Salome, Mother of James and John

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The object of this study is to take some time out of our busy, often chaotic days and spend some time with women who have gone before us. Not just any women, but 26 women of the Bible. We’ll “Walk Among Them” and see how their stories relate to our lives. It’s my hope that we will discover God’s presence and grace in our own lives as the lives and lessons of these women unfold before us this year.


Salome, Mother of James and John, The Zebedee Brothe
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This week we have an opportunity to walk with another amazing woman of the Bible. A woman, who is, as many of the women we meet, only mentioned briefly in the Bible. We don’t glean anything about her physical appearance from Scripture, but yet after the brief encounters we have with her, we take much away. Her story shows a life filled with passion and purpose. Imagine being known first as a devoted follower of Jesus and also as the mother of the “Sons of Thunder.” They weren’t given this name for nothing! She knew these two and the Lord had amazing plans for their lives. She was first and foremost a mother, giving birth to 2 boys who eventually grew to become one of Jesus’ first twelve.

The fact is that she was a mom. Salome was a wife and mother. Her husband made his living as a fisherman in Capernaum, and her sons were called by Jesus while they were working as fishermen as well.  They obviously knew who Jesus was at the time He approached them on their father Zebedee’s boat. We are told that they “immediately left the boat and their father and followed Him.” (Matthew 4: 22) She too becomes a devoted follower of Christ and is one of the three women who stood at the cross, witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and later stood in the presence of the angel at the tomb who told of the glorious resurrection. What highs and lows she experienced in her time on earth.

Salome was a mother. Her boys, James and John some of Jesus’ best friends and it’s easy to imagine her love and devotion to Him as well. When her son’s were called by Jesus she had to be amazed. In the Gospel of Matthew we see Salome’s true “mother colors” come out;

“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 sit at your right and the other at your left.”

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

Matthew 20: 20 – 23

It’s easy to sit and wonder, “What was she thinking?”  How many of us can honestly say that we wouldn’t have asked the same questions, given the circumstances?  She was doing what most of us would have done, she was trying to do what she thought would make her sons happy. A little bit of “motherly intervention.” Yes, they were grown men, but she KNEW who they were associating with. She thought she had a plan! Scripture tells us that she “begged.” Jesus understood her motives. She was a loving mother, devoted to Jesus and she couldn’t know or understand what she was asking.

As a mother she raised some passionate men. Men whose lives became a reflection of the kinds of children we’d like to raise. Flawless men, no, passionate and purposeful men, absolutely! How did she do it? Our clues lie in how SHE lived her own life. We know that children glean so much from the example that their parents are in their lives, good or bad. Salome’s devotion to Christ and His ministry are evident  as she is one of the women who stands at the foot of the cross. Mark 15: 41 tells us, “In Galilee these women had followed Him and cared for His needs.” Salome was one of these women. She loved Jesus. She was an example to her sons. She stayed devoted and clearly was not one to sit around. At a time when others were running scared, she continued with a few other women to finish what needed to be done. There were preparations to the body that needed to be made, and Salome was one of the women who was  present at the tomb that morning.

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus of Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here! See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell the disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as He told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

Mark 16: 1-8

It’s in the end of this passage that we see that while she was a devoted follower of Christ, she too was human. As we’ve seen before when she questions Jesus about her sons, we see here that she, (along with the other women present), say “nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” As we read this passage 2000 years later, we tend to think, “What are you ladies afraid of? You have just seen an angel of the Lord!  He is alive!” BUT, imagine for a moment that you are there. You’ve watched a crucifixion, the crucifixion of the one that you have been following and caring for. You’ve witnessed the crucifixion of your sons’ best friend and Lord.  You’ve gotten up early to do what needs to be done. Salome had to be exhausted. She had to be confused, just like the other disciples and above all she was sad. This news simply overwhelmed them. Could they believe it? Should they believe it? As we read these Scriptures and truly imagine ourselves there, often we find that we, in our own humanness would have reacted exactly the same way.

Salome leaves a legacy behind. While we know very little “about” her, we know so much. We don’t know what she looked like, what she enjoyed doing, how she laughed or what she cooked best, but thankfully we know that she was a devoted woman. Devoted to Jesus and devoted to her sons and that is a legacy in and of itself.

With each woman that we study, I’ll have some thoughts and ideas for reflection, meditation and journaling that will be called “Reflections from the Walk.” It’s in Walking Among Them that we can learn lessons that we can take with us on our daily walks.

Reflections from the walk:

Salome was, like many of us, a mother. Reread Matthew 20:20 and think about it from a mother’s perspective. What would you have asked of Jesus for your children? As mothers sometimes we THINK that we KNOW what is best for our children. If you find yourself struggling with submission in regards to your children, pray.

Consider journaling your prayers as a mother if you already don’t. It’s an amazing way to open your heart up to God in the written word. Often words flow on paper that we are unable to speak. As a mother, we know our children best. Present your requests to God for their lives and then reflect, as Salome had to, that there will be times when those requests will be denied. Pray for understanding and faith as you pray for your children, young or old. Remember that ultimately our children are not ours, but God’s, and it’s only in that understanding that we will truly be followers ourselves and know just how to come to God in prayer.

As a devoted follower, Salome was a woman of action. She left what we imagine was a comfortable life in Galilee to join the boys and follow Jesus. Look at your life and spend some time thinking about ways that YOU can engage yourself. It may be to prepare a meal for some of your own children’s friends or to reach out in the community. Look at the commitment of Salome to the ministry of Christ for inspiration.

Memorize Isaiah 66:13


“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”

Allow yourself to get creative and doodle a bit! Creatively write out this verse in a way that best expresses YOUR creativity. (Use markers, pens, stamps or even the computer) Place this unique creation somewhere that you will be reminded daily of this promise!

Finally, examine your own sense of pride. What areas do you struggle with in regards to pride? It’s not always easy to look inside of ourselves but it’s necessary if we want to grow in our relationship with Christ. Ask God to reveal to you any areas in which your own pride or ambitions are getting in the way of what He wants to do in your life or in the lives of your children. This will NOT be easy, but it can be the most rewarding exercise if we honestly open up and come to the cross and deal with unresolved issues of pride.

A PDF version can be found HERE.

Lori is a 6th year homeschool mom to 3. Currently she homeschools a 9th grader, a 7th grader and a 5th grader. Lori hopes to impart peace and inspiration amidst the daily chaos. It’s in the daily details of life that she is continually inspired! Be sure to visit her blog at All You Have to Give and at Internet Cafe Devotions.

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1 comment

  1. Debbie Knoblauch February 18, 2013 at 10:51 am -

    My ladies prayer group was covering this story and I wanted to find a good explanation of the mother of John and James and I thoroughly enjoyed your article.
    im even going to write out the isaiah passage and hang in my home like you suggested.
    thank you for sharing.
    In Christ our Lord and savior,
    Debbie Knoblauch

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