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A Mother's Ambition

Matthew 20:20-23

Ten men and one woman are hanging onto a rope that extends down from a helicopter.
The weight of eleven people is too much for the rope, so the group declares that one person has to jump off.
No one can make the choice of who should go until finally the woman volunteers.
She gives a very moving speech, saying that she is a mother and will sacrifice her life to save the others.
Mothers are used to giving up things for their husbands and their children.
When she finishes speaking, all the men start clapping…

Mothers are used to giving up things for their husbands and their children.
Mothers also have ambitions for her children.
Salome was that mother.
She was Jesus' aunt.
Salome and Jesus' mother, Mary, were sisters.
Two of her sons, James and John were disciples of Jesus.
They were Jesus' first cousins, and became part of the inner circle of the disciples.

Salome came to Jesus and asked: "Grant that these my two sons may sit one at your right hand,
and the other on your left, in thy kingdom
."

And Jesus answered: "Ye do not know what you ask."
Jesus knew that Salome had a very selfish ambition.
She made the mistake that mothers shouldn't make.
She had a very selfish ambition.
Salome wanted her boys to have prominent positions with Jesus.
She wanted them to have positions of power and prominence.

I don't believe that Salome knew her true ambitions.
She was asking that Jesus set aside His will and accept hers.
It was as though that she knew better than Jesus did the needs of the kingdom.
Actually, she was probably using her sons to achieve her own selfish ends.

It's sad to see that kind of ambition.
It is sad when someone tries to gain something for him or herself by using someone else.
It's especially sad when it involves a parent.
Sometimes, parents do not realize their real motives.
Because of the answer of Jesus, I don't believe that Salome knew her true motive.

One of the most tragic illustration of that in the Bible
involved another woman named, Salome.
She was step-daughter of King Herod.
One night King Herod had party and everybody got drunk.
Salome, danced at that party for the king and his guests.
King Herod was so overwhelmed by her performance that he offered her anything she wanted
up to half of his kingdom.

Salome turned to her mother, Herodias, for advice.
This mother was faced with an important decision.
She could have said: "Salome, ask to receive a gracious inheritance"…
or "Ask for the chance to travel to study with the great teachers as that you will be inspired
to become all that God wants you to be
."

But Herodias had her own evil intentions.
She hated John the Baptist, and so she said to her daughter: "Salome, ask for the head
of John the Baptist on a platter
."
She used her daughter for her own evil purposes.

It is tragic when mothers or fathers use their children to live vicariously through them.
That was Salome's problem when she came to Jesus.
She was using her sons for her own purposes.
And Jesus said: "You do not know what you are asking."
Jesus said: "I, Myself, will come to leadership in the Kingdom only through terrible, costly suffering.
Are your sons ready for that?
I don't think you know what it is that you are asking
."

An Italian boy had a great ambition to be a singer.
His mother took him to a noted music teacher, but the teacher turned the boy away saying:
"Your voice sounds like a heavy wind blowing through loose shutters."

But the boy wouldn't give up his dream.
So his mother said: "If you are willing to work at it, then I will work with you.
If you believe that God will bring the deepest melodies out of a life which is committed to Him
and seeks His will and His gift, if you are willing to go at it like that, then I will go with you
."

The boy said: "I am."
The boy surrendered himself both to the Lord and to the discipline of study.
The mother did without a lot of things.
She didn't even wear shoes so that she could save money to pay for his instruction.
One night, years later, in November of 1903, that young man stepped onto the stage
of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and began to sing.

The next day the newspapers were filled with the news that the "The voice of the century" had been heard.
The boy's name was Enrico Caruso.
He became known simply as "The Great Caruso"-

Enrico Caruso's mother never prayed that he might be given the Metropolitan Opera.
She prayed instead that he would be given a disciplined spirit and a committed life,
and out of that discipline and commitment would come whatever God wished to give.
Hers was a rightly directed faith.

Salome, on the other hand, came to Jesus with her selfish demands.
She wanted what she wanted without considering what was really best for her sons.

As my children grew, so did my awareness that I did not know what was best for my children.
But I also knew that God knows, and I continued to pray that God will be done in their lives.

"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
The most important ambition of every mothers should be for their children to become believers in Jesus,
Then, pray that God's will dominate them all the days of their lives.
When they are in God's care and keeping, they will an abundant life here and life forever.

That should be every Mother's ambition.

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@aol.com