Yes, Jesus had said he was going to die, but we assumed his work had just begun. My husband, Zebedee, and I and both of our sons, James and John , were swept up in the contagious energy of his ministry. Everywhere Messiah went he was touching lives, healing the sick and he had even raised the dead. We thought his influence would just grow and grow, finally leading to his messianic rule from Jerusalem.
"I was overjoyed to follow Jesus and care for his needs as though he were my own son. He nicknamed my boys ‘Sons of Thunder’ because of their enthusiastic support. He and John had become best of friends. So as we traveled to Jerusalem one day, it seemed natural to me to ask Jesus for a favor. With James and John by my side, I kneeled before Jesus and asked him if my sons could have prominent positions in his kingdom.
"His response confused me. He said he didn’t think we really understood what we were asking. He asked James and John if they were able to drink of the cup he was to drink.
"They said, ‘Yes, of course!’ They could drink of the cup. We were not sure exactly what he meant by that. I did recall that he had recently told us he would be mocked and flogged and crucified. But his influence and miracles were so impressive, it didn’t seem possible that could ever happen.
"I should never have made my request, even though Jesus’ response had been patient and considerate. The other disciples overheard and before long a huge argument broke out about who should be the greatest. The ten indignantly turned on James and John. Jesus had to step in to straighten everyone out, explaining the greatest must first become a servant.
"Our hopes and spirits soared after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. But our dreams were quickly dashed to pieces when Jesus was arrested. The trial was such a mockery. Jesus was slapped and spat on, and the crowds turned vicious.
"This strong, tender-hearted young man had done nothing but good to others. Yet he was brutally beaten. Even the execution soldiers were shocked at the extent of his wounds. I watched with unbelieving eyes, determining not to leave him even though the other disciples had fled for their lives.
"The grim process dragged through the afternoon. My son John had also stayed by him and comforted Mary as she knelt in unspeakable sorrow before the cross. As he struggled for breath, Jesus asked John to care for his mother. My brave son took Mary’s hand and gently led her back to us.
"Then Jesus died. Three days later, he was raised from the dead, and we were overjoyed beyond words. But it was at the foot of the cross I finally began to understand what it meant to follow him. How foolish of us to ask for prominence. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
By Joyce Catherwood