By Rev. Dr. William H. Chavis, Jr.

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming…Wow! What a Ride!” – Melvin Trotter

The above quote is a symbolic representation of a spiritual life well lived by the mother of the most fervent of Jesus’ disciples, James and John. They are better known in Scripture as the “sons of Zebedee” (Mark 1:19). Their mother’s name apparently was Salome (Matthew 20:20, 27:56; Mark 15:40). Not much is known or said about Salome in Scripture. She stands out, however, as a devoted mother who introduced her children to the Lord of lords and the King of kings. Salome’s action is a model for all Christian parents to emulate.

Salome was not complacent about her love for Jesus. She gave her life to Him, and was relentless in having her sons follow in her footsteps. At the 1963 historic march on Washington, D.C., Dr. King spoke how important it was for Black people to be freed from political and economic oppression. He called it “the fierce urgency of now.” Salome lived her life with that same urgency for Christ. 

Salome believed so thoroughly in Jesus that she introduced her sons to Him. She recognized His kingship and bowed before Him with the deepest of hope for them. In her enthusiasm and naivete, Salome requested that her sons be appointed to the pinnacle seats of power in His kingdom, one at Jesus’ right hand and the other at His left (Matthew 20:20-21). 

His response to Salome strengthened her resolve in Jesus, even with His dire warning of impending trouble by serving Him (Matthew 20:22). Salome saw her alliance with Jesus as “good trouble.” She was not discouraged. Salome found joy in spreading the Gospel she wanted her sons to believe in and experience.  

What followed was a remarkable life of a woman living at a time where cultural and religious traditions against her social mobility were ever-present and restrictive. Public life was an exclusive domain of men. Being true to her cause for Christ, she became a tenacious disciple for Him. Likewise, her sons became two of the most devoted of the Lord’s disciples.

Salome ministered to Jesus out of her substance. She left her traditional role as a wife and mother, took up a transitory lifestyle of Jesus, and followed Him (Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41).  She followed Jesus and witnessed His crucifixion while “looking on from a distance” (Mark 15:40). She arrived the next morning, with other women, to anoint His body with spices (Mark 16:1).

Like mother, like sons, they were brave and willing to give up their lives for the cause of Christ. Both were outspoken and zealous for the Gospel of Christ. James was beheaded for his efforts at Jerusalem (Acts 12:1-2). John authored the Gospel of John, three epistles and the Book of Revelation. Toward the end of his life, the great apostle was imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos for the sole purpose of giving his “testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:9). 

Salome would have been proud that her sons lived the way she hoped them to be, although one was martyred and the other imprisoned at an old age. They became the result of her time with them. It would have been her joy to know that her sons’ spiritual life in Jesus became more fruitful than hers.