Mothers want their children to be great. Mrs. Zebedee had a revelation of the kingdom. She wanted her children to be used greatly in the kingdom of God. She wanted them to be important to the kingdom and they were. Both were apostles. James was so influential Herod had James killed. There is no way to number the millions of lives John alone has touched. Their mom wanted them great and they were.

By Pastor Delbert Young


Mothers say Make My Children Great

Scriptures: Matthew 20:20-21, Mark 3:17

Today is Mother’s Day. It’s the day we celebrate Motherhood and a day which causes us to think about our mothers. I had a great mom. She passed on in 1993. Sometimes it hurts to think about her. I miss her and I wish she were still with me. Hopefully, your mom is still here. If so, then love her with all your heart. Go see her if possible. Call her on the phone. Tell her how special she is and how much you love her. A day will come when she won’t be here and you won’t be able to tell her. Perhaps you are like me and your mom has gone on. Then today, let’s cry together as we remember all those wonderful memories of our mommas.

MOTHERS ALWAYS HAVE A HOPE AND A PLAN FOR THEIR CHILDREN. Mothers can see the potential within their children the children cannot see. They want their children to go to the top of their potential. Mothers want their children to learn more, do more, and accomplish more with their lives than did they. As I thought about this and wanted to develop the thought somewhat for today’s lesson, I found my way to the following passage.

Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

Matthew 20:21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

As we see, Zebedee’s wife had great hopes and plans for her children.

SIXTH SENSE: It was interesting, to me, when Mrs. Zebedee came to Jesus. The scriptures seem to make a point about the moment she came.

Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus…

The moment was immediately after Jesus had told his disciples he would be betrayed, arrested, mocked, flogged, crucified, and would rise from the dead the third day. It was THEN – immediately after Jesus said those things – she came. She heard something no one else heard. She knew something no one else knew. It seems this mother understood what the disciples did not understand.

Moms are like this. They have this sixth sense. It’s spooky. They know stuff they shouldn’t know. They pick up on things no one else gets. I remember hearing an interviews with mothers during the recent war with Iraq and how they would know something was wrong and would begin praying for their child. I’ve watched my wife do this. It’s spooky.

NAME NOT GIVEN: Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons… Her name was not given. She is simply referred to as “the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” Moms are like this. They are a nameless force behind a person’s success. We have all heard of George Washington, our nation’s first president, but have you ever heard anything about his mother. Here is a description given of her in a book named George Washington’s Mother by Jean Fritz. “This is the true story of Mary Washington. When she wasn’t worrying about being poor, she was poking her nose in George’s business, baking gingerbread, and smoking a pipe.” Mothers are like this. They want to poke around in the business of their children. But it’s never to harm and always to help. George Washington was greatly directed because of his mother.

If we carry this thought to President George W. Bush, we see a similar force behind him in his mom. Barbara Bush was/is a great molding force behind George W. Bush. I don’t think she smokes a pipe, but I wouldn’t put it past her. Mothers are major contributors to the success of our lives. My mom was a force behind me. She was the one who made me do my homework, take baths, go to college, etc. She was always poking around in my business. I would think it was probably similar in your life as well. Moms are nameless contributors of our success.

ZEBEDEE’S SONS: Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons

Those two sons of Zebedee had names. They were James and John. I was thinking about James and John and how they were known in their community. They were called Sons of Thunder.

Mark 3:17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder);

What would you think nicknaming these boys “Sons of Thunder” would mean? I would think it would mean these boys were loud. I would think they were always around a storm and part the storm. They probably caused storms. It could refer somewhat to their dad Zebedee, but obviously they had inherited the thunder. I recall one instance in the Bible when they wanted to call down fire from heaven and burn up some people (Luk 9:54). It would be foolish to attempt to speculate all their mom had to endure with her two boys. Can you imagine how many times she thought she was going crazy? She probably needed some parenting classes. However, she never gave up on her two sons of thunder. Moms never give up on us no matter what storms we bring.

I think back at some of the storms I brought to my mom. I know she thought I would drive her crazy. Still, through each crazy thing I did, she loved me and continued desiring only the best for me. I never related my getting into trouble with my mom’s love for me. Mothers love us unconditionally. Moms are like this. I remember once when I had let the entire family down. I watched my mom cry, then hug me, and then support and help me through it like no one else.

It seems God somehow knows the exact mom who can tolerate us and somehow understand us. It is to this mom he gives us.

CAME WITH HER SONS: Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons Mrs. Zebedee brought her children to the Lord with her. Moms are good at this. They bring their children to the Lord. There is nothing greater a mom can do for them. Hopefully, the children will come to the Lord at a young age, but it doesn’t matter if your children are full grown and call themselves disciples. Moms can still bring their children to the Lord.

I will never forget how desperately my wife Judy wanted Lance to be “Christened.” We had attended a Methodist church and Judy wanted her baby brought to the Lord.

  1. ZEBEDEE WAS NOT THERE.I want to make sure we see this. Mom, it doesn’t matter what dad does. You should bring your children to Jesus. Christ must be a priority no matter what dad does. Hopefully dad will come too. We do pretty well around here about praying dads in, but if he doesn’t, bring your children to Jesus even if the children don’t want to come.

I read an illustration written by Joe Harding as I researched for today’s lesson. Joe Harding wrote, “I had a ‘drug’ problem when I was a young person and a teenager.

I was ‘drug’ to church on Sunday morning –

I was ‘drug’ to church on Sunday night –

I was ‘drug’ to church on Wednesday night –

I was ‘drug’ to Sunday school every week –

I was ‘drug’ to Vacation Bible School –

I was ‘drug’ to the family altar to read the bible and pray.

I was also ‘drug’ to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents.

Those ‘drugs’ are still in my veins, and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack or heroin. If our children had this ‘drug’ problem, America would certainly be a better place.” (1)

Moms should carry, lead, drag, drive, beat, and whatever else may be necessary to get their children to Jesus. Their destiny is dependent upon it.

KNEELING DOWN: Matthew 20:20… and, kneeling down…

Once in the Lord’s presence, Mrs. Zebedee went to her knees and asked the Lord to do something for her. Isn’t this a beautiful picture of a mom praying for her children? What sort of impact do you suspect her kneeling in the presence of the Lord had upon her children? I will tell you. They felt if the Lord was important enough for their mother to kneel before, then he was important enough for them to worship also. Mothers who allow their children to observe their worship of the Lord have children who worship. Mothers should allow their children to observe them pray, worship, read, praise, give, etc.

MAKE MY CHILDREN GREAT: Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

Matthew 20:21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left…”

The mother of James and John approached the Lord. She was not coming to ask something for herself. She was coming to ask something for her children. If her children were blessed and happy then she would be blessed and happy. Mothers are like this.

Moms should constantly get as close as they can to Jesus and then, in prayer, ask the Lord to bless her children and make them great. Mrs. Zebedee asked Jesus to take her boys to the top. I don’t know there is anything more powerful than a mother’s prayer for her children. It can truly be the difference between greatness and failure.

A mother’s primary concerns are her children. There is an overwhelming responsibility a mother experiences when it comes to her children. Many times she will take this responsibility to the Lord.

IN YOUR KINGDOM: Matthew 20:21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

Mrs. Zebedee had a revelation of the kingdom. She wanted her children to be used greatly in the kingdom of God. She wanted them to be important to the kingdom and they were. Both were apostles. James was so influential to people and brought so many people into the kingdom Herod had James killed (Act 12:2). He became the first martyr of the church. John became the author of St. John, 1, 2, and 3 John, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ. There is no way to number the millions of lives John alone has touched.

Mothers, I want to say this to you. Don’t only pray for your child to be great. Pray they will be great in the kingdom. How important is it to moms today their children become great in the kingdom? What if we put as much energy and time and money into their being great in the kingdom as we put into their being great in the world? What if the number one petition we came before the Lord with for our children was to make them great in the kingdom? How many lives could be changed and souls saved? Is the kingdom our number one priority? Greatness happens when moms pray for their children.

CONCLUSION: Mothers always have a hope and a plan for their children to be great. Mothers have an amazing sixth sense into the lives of their children. Children, you need to trust this sense. It will keep you out of trouble and help make you successful. Mothers are nameless forces behind the success any of us experience. Mothers love us even if we bring storms and thunder. Mothers bring their children with them into the presence of the Lord even if dad won’t come. Mothers allow us to observe her worship of Jesus. Mothers request the Lord makes her children great. Mothers see true greatness is greatness in the kingdom of God.

I want to encourage our mothers today. God has given you great blessings by giving you children. God can trust a person with nothing greater than with the life of another person. Train the life well.

We husbands, fathers, sons-in-law, and daughters-in-law praise you and thank you. Life Gate Church thanks you. Our society thanks you. The kingdom of heaven thanks you. Above all, the Father thanks you.

You keep on dreaming big dreams for your children even if they are grown. Help make your children be the best they can be. Keep sticking your nose in their business. Help your children dream big dreams. Help them to see the true potential within each of them. Above all, help make them great in the kingdom.

God bless you on this Mothers’ Day. I pray it will be a joyous and happy time.

Other Related Sermons:

Receive the Kingdom of God Like Children – video audio notes Luke 18:15-17

Irrevocable Blessing – sermon audio video

Jairus A Hero Father – sermon video audio notes

  1. Joe Harding, A Mother’s Request