Women in the Word – Salome

Moretto_da_Brescia_-_Portrait_of_Tullia_d'Aragona_as_Salome_(detail)_-_WGA16231Salome is not one of the women in the New Testament that one is likely to hear mentioned frequently.  This lady was a follower of Jesus and had the honor of being among the first to learn of his resurrection.  Prior to that, she cared for his needs in Galilee.

The fact that only her name was known is very important.  To God, your name is important, even the number of the hairs on your head are taken into account, meaning God has designed each person and knows them well, even what is hidden.

jesus-collecting-disciplesSalome was the wife of Zebedee, the prosperous fisherman who had hired servants.  The only glimpse we have of him is in his boat, mending his nets when Jesus came upon him and called his two sons to follow Him.  That Zebedee shared his wife’s devotion to Jesus is evidenced by the fact that there was no action on his part to detain his sons from leaving his fishing business to accompany Jesus.  Reading between the lines, it is not too difficult to detect the harmony in this Capernaum family, concerning the call and claims of Jesus

Salome, one of the saintly women who followed and ministered to Jesus in Galilee appears to have been one of His disciples from the outset of His public ministry. She had no doubt whatever as to His Messiahship and faced no difficulty in persuading her sons, Hames and John, to accompany her in obedience to the Master’s word.  Both Zebedee and Salome by their life prepared their children to follow Jesus.  That their children never forgot their home influence and instruction is seen in the depth of devotion and the wide range of vision in the writings of James and John,  who became apostles. Salome remained faithful to Jesus up tp the very end.  She was present at the crucifixion, beholding that grim scene afar off, even when her two sons had withdrawn.

In Mrk 15:40 Salome is named as one of the women present at the crucifixion. The parallel passage in Matt 27:26 reads thus:  which was Mary Magdalene, and the Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.   She was devoted enough to stand with these women as they watched from a distance as Jesus was crucified.

Salone along with the other women “stood afar off” probably because of the malicious crowd, rough soldiers, and the horrors of the cross, all of which was sufficient to make them timid.  They were full of love and sympathy, and with tear-filled eyes, they showed their devotion as they beheld Jesus as He hung there in death.  Salome had discovered the truth offered by her Messiah.She was privileged to be close to Him and to serve Him daily.  She also had the assurance that her husband and sons shared her devotion and were secure in their salvation.  No wonder her name means Peace. 

Salome at the Tomb with AngelsAfter He was placed in the tomb and the Sabbath was over Salome along with the two Marys brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body.  As they carried the spices to the tomb, they wondered who would roll away the stone that blocked the entrance.  They hastened to perform their last service for their Lord but did not arrive at the tomb soon enough to perfume His body with spices.  They found that they stone had already been rolled away and as they entered they saw that the body was not there. An angel of the Lord uttered those tremendous words:  He is not here, for He is Risen!

Their devotion to service had been rewarded by being given the privilege of announcing to the world the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were instructed to go to tell the disciples of the resurrection and that they would see Him in Galilee.  Salome and the other women must have gone away excited, bewildered and trembling as they carried out their mission

The-Sons-of-ZebedeeSalome was proud of her sons.  She must have been a very happy mother to know that her sons were as devoted as she. Salome was also ambitious for her sons, and ambition is commendable when it is in full agreement with the mind and purpose of God. Ambition, when divinely directed, can lead to the heights of honor but when selfishly pursued can cast one down to the depths of degradation. Salome knew she was an honored mother because of her two sons, James and John were two of Christ’s best-loved disciples and along with Peter formed the inner circle among the Twelve. On different occasions, Peter, James, and John are grouped together. Salome knew that Christ was the Messiah, but as a millennialist could not separate Him from Israel’s temporal glory. Feeling that the kingdom would soon be established, she requested that her sons be placed one on Christ’s right hand and the other on His left when He inaugurated His kingdom. Although such a demand arose from maternal pride and jealousy, it did not arise from true faith. She knew not what she asked (Matt 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-40) when seeking seats of honor for her sons. Oh to have the confidence in the love of Jesus to stand before the Savior to make such a brave – if misguided- request.

In His rebuke of Salome for her misguided ambition Christ did not reject the request of the mother for her children, but corrected it, and accepted it in a way mother and sons did not anticipate. To be intimately near Him on His throne meant fellowship with Him in His sufferings. Our Lord did not treat Salome’s ambition as if it were sinful but he was compassionate because of the ignorance behind the request. Salome did not know “what manner of spirit” she was off (Luke 9:55). In effect, Jesus asked if her sons were prepared to drink the cup of martyrdom, and implied that James and John would share His throne of suffering. This they did, for James was the first apostolical martyr and John, the last. Salome’s dreams of the kingship of Christ with her sons sharing His rule were rudely shattered as she saw her much-loved Messiah dying as a felon on a wooden gibbet. Along with others, she thought that it would have been “He who would have redeemed Israel,” but there He is, hanging on a cross in agony and shame. Salome came to learn that the only way to sovereignty is through sacrificial service. “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26, 27). The mother sought earthly crowns for her sons, but through losing their lives for Christ’s sake, they gained greater honor in heaven.

As we leave “the mother of Zebedee’s children,” it is the realization of the influence of a godly mother in, and over, the lives of her children. So often it is from a mother’s tender affection that her child imbibes the love of God so that it becomes almost part of the child’s nature. Further, there is no more potent antidote against sin within or without than faith in God generated by the holy life and teaching of godly parents. Salome and Zebedee were the Lord’s and both of their sons became His followers and died for His cause. Happy and grateful are those Christian parents who live to see their offspring wholly dedicated to the service of the Lord.




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