Mothers in the Bible make for a worthwhile study. Every written account is significant. They let us look at things from Godâ€™s perspective. If we can see which mother did what was good and right in Godâ€™s eyes and which mothers did not, then we will know what to do and what not to do. This study gives us a glimpse of how two mothers fared.
The mother who turned her son to worship idols: Micahâ€™s Mother This mother is known only as Micahâ€™s mother. Micah and his mother were Israelites from the tribe of Ephraim. They lived at a time when Israel was a young nation in the Promised Land. Without leaders like Moses, Joshua, or the elders who had lived through the exodus to lead them, â€œeveryone did what was right in his own eyesâ€ (Judg 17:6).
The account begins with Micah owning up to stealing a large amount of silver from his mother. He owned up after he heard her curse the thief. Forgiving him, Micahâ€™s mother asked God to bless him. Then she said to him, â€œI had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the Lord for my son, to make a carved image and a molded imageâ€ (v. 3). We find that Micahâ€™s mother gave a silversmith a portion of the silver for this purpose. When finished, these idols were placed inside Micahâ€™s house. He was captivated.
Micah created a shrine. He made an ephod, which was a priestly garment. He even added some household idols. He also made one of his sons to be his priest (v. 5).
When a Levite came to town, Micah quickly made him priest in his house. He was exuberant. He said, â€œNow I know that the Lord will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!â€ (v. 13)
On the surface, Micahâ€™s mother did a good thing. She got her son thinking about God and turned him into a devout worshiper. Unfortunately, she made him an idol worshiper.
This mother did not have a basic understanding of the one true God. Although she knew that blessings came from God (v. 2b), she did not know that the Lord would have nothing to do with idols (Ex 20:3,23; Lev 19:4; 26:1; Deut 29:16-26). She was mixing it up. Her son also mixed it up.
It is very easy to mix it up, and it is easier today than ever before. The phrase â€œeveryone did what was right in his own eyesâ€ seems to describe the times in which we live.
But while none of us would actually pay a craftsman to fashion an idol or two for our sons and daughters, we must be aware that if we do not understand the teachings of the Bible, we will mix them up with the teachings of this world.
Our actions carry with them grave and eternal consequences. We only have to remember what happened to Micah. He became an idol worshiper, and he turned his son into an idol worshiper. But the corruption did not end there.
The Danites, a neighboring tribe, came upon Micahâ€™s elaborate form of worship and was hooked. They stole his set-up and persuaded his priest to join them (Judg 18:1-31).
As a result, a tribe of people was corrupted and sinned against the Lord. There would even come a time in the history of Israel when people of other tribes journeyed to this place to worship idols (1 Kgs 12:28-30).
The mother who wanted her sons to be closest to Jesus: James and Johnâ€™s Mother The mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, lived during Jesusâ€™ time. Her sons were of our Lordâ€™s generation. The three of them were followers of Jesus. In fact, this mother was one of the women who supplied our Lordâ€™s needs. Her name was Salome (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40-41; Mk 16:1).
Our Lordâ€™s gospel of the kingdom of heaven intrigued this mother, as much as it did her sons. Like most everyone else, she had been waiting for the Messiah, the savior king, to liberate the land, now called Palestine, from Roman rule.
Even though Jesusâ€™ background was only that of a carpenter, the mother of the sons of Zebedee put her faith in Him. One day in the third year of His public ministry, Jesus headed to Jerusalem with His followers1 and, while He was there, He predicted His death a second time (Mk 10:32-34).
Seizing the moment, this mother approached our Lord with her sons. She knelt before Jesus and made a special request. She said, â€œGrant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your kingdomâ€ (Mt 20:21).
The mother of the sons of Zebedee had great faith. Although Jesus had nothing to show for the kingdom of which He had been speaking, she had seen enough miracles to know that nothing was ever impossible with Jesus. What the Teacher said always came true.
When Jesus began His reign, this mother knew that she wanted her sons to be closest to Him. As did James and John themselves, she wanted them sitting right next to the king so they would â€œshare in the glory and power of Christ and be the greatest in Godâ€™s kingdom.â€2 Our Lord gave them a reality check. After all, Jesusâ€™ kingdom was not the earthly kind. He asked mother and sons if they knew what they were asking for. And He corrected their notion of greatness (Mt 20:22-28; Mk 10:38-45).
Despite that reality check, the mother of the sons of Zebedee was undeterred. She kept her faith and remained a devoted follower. A woman of lesser faith would have fallen away.
But this mother was no stranger to the Holy Scriptures-what we call the Old Testament. She was a student of the Word. And long before she met the Son of God, Salome already loved God with all her heart, soul, and mind.
We can see that this love rubbed off on her sons. John is a perfect example. He was a disciple of John the Baptist before Jesus began His ministry. John, as you might recall, was a no-nonsense kind of preacher who lived in the desert.
One day, when Jesus was in the neighborhood where John the Baptist was performing baptism, John and his companion took the initiative to follow Jesus to the place where He was staying and spent the day with Him (Jn 1:35-39).
Several months later, Jesus came to Johnâ€™s own neighborhood. As soon as our Lord called out to John and his older brother, James, to follow Him, they dropped everything and went (Mt 4:21-22; Mk 1:19-20). James and John loved Jesus. Sometimes, they overdid it. Once our Lord was snubbed in a village. Right away, the sons of Zebedee felt a righteous indignation. They recalled a reading from Scripture and asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven, â€œjust as Elijah didâ€ (Lk 9:54-56).
This helps us understand why Jesus had a special place in His heart for the sons of Zebedee. They were members of His â€œinner circleâ€ and were two of the three disciples that were closest to Him. Whenever our Lord preferred not to be alone or not to be with a big group of people, He had the brothers and one other apostle to keep Him company (Mk 5:37-43; 9:2-13; Mt 26:37-46). It was also understood among the apostles that John was â€œthe disciple whom Jesus lovedâ€ (Jn 13:21-25 NIV).
John was the only one of the twelve who did not abandon Jesus throughout His ordeal. Like his mother, who refused to abandon the Son of God as He bore the sins of the world on the cross, John stayed as close to his Teacher, Lord, and Master, as was possible. Years later John would write, â€œWhen Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, â€˜Dear woman, here is your son,â€™ and to the disciple, â€˜Here is your mother.â€™ â€(Jn 19:26-27 NIV).
The sons of Zebedee would go on to serve the risen Lord all the days of their lives. James was the first apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:2). John was the last. Out of all the apostles, he served Christ the longest.
John authored five of the sixty-six books in the Bible. The theme of love is everywhere in his writing. In the gospel according to John, he writes about the love of God and of His son, Jesus Christ. In 1, 2, and 3 John, his letters to the early church, John also writes about the love between brethren.3 In Revelation, John shares the vision he saw that gives us a preview of the history of this world.
All his writings reflect what Jesus said was the greatest commandment (Mt 22:34-40). They minister to us even today and draw us close to Jesus, as they would every believer, until the day our Lord comes in all His splendor and glory to give to everyone according to what he has done (Rev 22:12).
Both these mothers had great influence on their children. One of them turned hers far from Him while the other drew hers close to the Lord. The choices these mothers made were dependent upon how well they understood Godâ€™s word.
The same is true for you and me. We must, therefore, make every effort to read the Bible and understand Godâ€™s word. If youâ€™ve found this study helpful, we encourage you to study other mothers in the Bible.
Do this in the privacy of your home or in the company of your family, friends, and church group. You will be the wiser for it, and your sons and daughters will greatly benefit. 1 Bible Study Guide Series: Matthew (True Jesus Church, 1999), pg 8
2 Bible Study Guide Series: Matthew (True Jesus Church, 1999), pg 242
3 Bible Study Guide Series: 1, 2, 3 John & Jude (True Jesus Church, 1999), pg 10-12