Questions and Answers

Why Did the Lord Jesus Not Grant the Request of Salome?

Brothers and sisters who read the verses Matthew 20:20-23 all know that Salome, the mother of James and John, asked the Lord Jesus to let one of her sons sit on the right hand of the Lord, and the other on the left, in the kingdom of heaven. However, the Lord refused.

Although we are all familiar with this Bible story, very few of us understand why the Lord refused to meet Salome’s desire. I read such a passage from a book which says, “In people’s life experiences, they often think to themselves, I’ve given up my family and career for God, and what has He given me? I must add it up, and confirm it—have I received any blessings recently? I’ve given a lot during this time, I’ve run and run, and have suffered much—has God given me any promises in return? Has He remembered my good deeds? What will my end be? Can I receive God’s blessings? … Every person constantly makes such calculations within their heart, and they make demands of God which bear their motivations, ambitions, and a transactional mentality. This is to say, in his heart man is constantly testing God, constantly devising plans about God, constantly arguing the case for his own individual end with God, and trying to extract a statement from God, seeing whether or not God can give him what he wants. At the same time as pursuing God, man does not treat God as God. Man has always tried to make deals with God, ceaselessly making demands of Him, and even pressing Him at every step, trying to take a mile after being given an inch. At the same time as trying to make deals with God, man also argues with Him, and there are even people who, when trials befall them or they find themselves in certain situations, often become weak, passive and slack in their work, and full of complaints about God. From the time when man first began to believe in God, he has considered God to be a cornucopia, a Swiss Army knife, and he has considered himself to be God’s greatest creditor, as if trying to get blessings and promises from God were his inherent right and obligation, while God’s responsibility were to protect and care for man, and to provide for him. Such is the basic understanding of ‘belief in God’ of all those who believe in God, and such is their deepest understanding of the concept of belief in God” (God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II).

From this passage, I understood that it is because Salome’s faith in the Lord was too tainted that the Lord Jesus didn’t meet her desire. She thought as long as she could abandon everything and expand for the Lord, then she was qualified to desire something of the Lord and ask for the Lord’s grace and blessings. Since she followed the Lord with the intention of gaining the reward and crown from the Lord and making the deal with the Lord, how could her faith be approved by the Lord?

According to these words, we examine ourselves and find that we are the same as Salome. At the beginning of believing in God, due to our faith in God, we thought God should always protect and care for us, and bestow upon our family peace and blessings; we also often prayed to God for keeping us from illness and disasters, hoping everything could go smoothly. We felt very delighted upon receiving God’s blessings; once the hardships or misfortunes came upon us, we would pray to God to remove them; if God didn’t answer our prayers, we would misunderstand and complain against God, living in negativity and resistance, and straying from God. Since we followed the Lord for a long time, we worked and expended for the Lord, sustained the church, suffered and sacrificed a lot for preaching the Lord’s gospel, then, so we thought God should give us grace and blessings, and bestow upon us the crown of righteousness; when the Lord returns, we are the most qualified to enter God’s kingdom and can manage several cities there… All along, we thought our expectations and demands of the Lord were reasonable and in line with the Lord’s will. We even thought if God didn’t bless us with the crown of righteousness according to our suffering, then God would be not righteous. Let’s ponder together: God is the Creator, and we are created beings. It is natural for the created beings to expend for the Creator. However, we took our labor and expenditure for the Lord as the condition and capital to ask for grace and blessings from God. We didn’t treat God as God at all. We do have no conscience and sense, nor have any reverence to God. We believe in God but make deals with God in everything. How can our faith in God be approved and blessed by God?

God is the Creator and He is supreme, while we humans are always the created beings. No matter when and how God does His work, whether He blesses us or takes something away from us, we should all have reverence to God, and treat God as God. We should stand in the position of the created beings to obey all the arrangements of God, make no demands of God nor have any extravagant desires, but follow God according to God’s requirements. Only by this can our faith in God be in line with God’s will!