IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
It comes from Wayne Sacchi out of Knoxville. He gets a free book for his trouble.
Here’s his question:
Why were the other disciples so indignant when the mother of James and John asked Jesus to put each of her sons, one on the left and right, when Jesus “enters his glory?” I was reading a few commentaries stating that James and John were actually Jesus’ cousins according to Mark 10:35-37 and Matthew 20:20-21, what do you think?
In Vegas, I’d bet against it.
The idea is based on a series of presumptions drawn by comparing reports about which women were standing near the cross of Jesus during his crucifixion.
Women standing near the cross of Jesus:
- Matthew’s report. 3 women: Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee (27:56).
- Mark’s report. 3 women: “Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome” (15:40).
- John’s report. 4 women: “Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene” (19:25).
- Salome was the mother of Zebedee’s sons: “James and John…with their father, Zebedee” (Mark 4:21).
- Salome was Mary’s sister—the unnamed “sister” of Mary reported by John, but ID’d by Mark as Salome.
Maybe that’s right.
Three follow up questions.
1. What if there was a group of a dozen or more women at the cross, and the Gospel reporters were each naming a few who came to mind? Matthew said there were “many women” (Matthew 27:55). Mark said the few he named were among a group: “Some of the women there, watching from a distance, including…” Mark 15:40).
2. Why wouldn’t the writers say Jesus and Zeb’s boys were cousins? That’s a pretty important fact to skip—especially since James and John, along with Peter, were Jesus’ closest friends and most trusted disciples. No genetic link to Jesus shows up anywhere in their story. Not even in the Bible’s only report of a disciple dying as a martyr: “King Herod Agrippa…had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword” (Acts 12:1-2). He’s ID’d as an apostle and as John’s brother, but not as the cousin of Jesus himself.
3. Why would the disciples have gotten so ticked at James and John asking to sit beside Jesus if they knew the three men were related? Family was important. That may be one big reason why Christians picked as the leader of the mother church in Jerusalem one of Jesus’ brothers—a man named James. They didn’t pick Peter or any of the other apostles.
I’ll give this to the presumers: they might be right. I’ve been wrong before.
But I’d bet against them.
In the end, though, who cares?
So what if they’re related? I don’t see how that would change anything or shed extra light on any of Jesus’ teachings.
And even if it did, so what?
I’d rather build my faith on something a bit more solid than presumptions.
I’ll bet on Jesus.
- As a man in the Roman history books.
- As the Son of God in the Bible.
- As the Lord of my life and the hope of my eternal life.
But not as my cousin.