Who does Matthew say made a request of Jesus in Mat 20:20? What does Mark’s description of the same event indicate about who was ultimately behind the request? See Mar 10:35; cf. Mat 20:24, and observe that “you” in Mat 20:22 is plural, referring to James and John, not their mother. Why would James and John have involved their mother in their request? I.e., is there anything significant about her that would lead them to do so? What other information does Matthew record about her in his gospel? See Mat 27:55-56. Along with the mother of James and John, what other two women does Matthew give prominence to at Jesus’ crucifixion who were among the “many women … who had followed Jesus from Galilee”? What else does Matthew record about these two that makes them stand out? See Mat 27:59-61. What three women does Mark mention as prominent at Jesus’ crucifixion? See Mar 15:40. Is it reasonable to assume that “Mary the mother of James and Joseph” is the same as “Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses”? See Mar 15:47 and cf. again Mat 27:61. Considering the closeness of Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts, what may we then reasonably conclude was the name of James’ and John’s mother? See again Mar 15:40. What other piece of information does Mark record about her that makes her significant? See Mar 16:1.
John also mentions some women earlier in the crucifixion episode standing by the cross of Jesus with His mother Mary; who are they? See Joh 19:25. In this verse, is it to be understood that there were two women with Jesus’ mother (her sister who was also named Mary and Mary Magdalene), or three women (her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene)? Think: although it is possible (perhaps they were half-sisters), is it most likely that two sisters would have the same name? Although we cannot be certain from the information available to us, considering that Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary are mentioned as prominent at the crucifixion by both Matthew and Mark, what is the likelihood that Mary the wife of Clopas that John also mentions as prominent is the same as Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses? Considering now that three women are given prominence at the crucifixion by Matthew, Mark, and John, one of whom is clearly the same, a second of whom is quite likely the same, and at such an event we would expect such friends and acquaintances to stand by one another for support, what might this lead us to believe about Salome, the mother of James and John? Why would it make sense if Salome was the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary, that after the crucifixion she would not have stayed with the other two Marys to see where Jesus was laid? I.e., with whom would she have gone? Why would it also make sense that following the crucifixion “when the Sabbath was over” that she would join Mary Magdalene and the other Mary in bringing spices, “that they might come and anoint him” (Mar 16:1)? Considering that John never mentions himself or his brother James by name in his gospel (cf. Joh 21:20-24), why does it also make sense that he would avoid mention of his mother by name?
If, as appears most likely, Salome, the mother of James and John, was Mary’s sister, what insight does this give us about why James and John would have involved her in their request; i.e., what leverage would she have with Jesus that they didn’t have? Cf. 1Ki 2:13-17. What insight does it give us into why James and John were among Jesus’ closest disciples, along with Peter who was their fishing partner (Luk 5:10)? What insight does it give us about why, when Jesus left Nazareth, that He settled in Capernaum where James and John lived? What insight does it give us about why, when Matthew and Mark say that Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John, that they “immediately left” their nets and boat and followed Him (Mat 4:18-22, Mar 1:16-20)?
Consider the earthly family that God sovereignly chose for His eternal Son Jesus to be born into: that James and John were likely His cousins, that His brother James became head of the church in Jerusalem, His brother Jude wrote the short epistle by his name, that John the Baptist was also a relative (recall Mary and his mother Elizabeth were relatives); what do we learn from this about the influence, power and importance that a single godly family may have in the world? Consider too that such godly families that are at the center of God’s plans are the product of godly choices made by godly ancestors who are most often unnamed and unknown; is it possible that although we suppose our part in God’s kingdom is small and insignificant, that the godly choices we make and the direction we set in our homes may in the same way from a heavenly perspective be instrumental in accomplishing God’s eternal plans for good and producing an eternal harvest? Finally, consider the closeness within families where every blemish of character is exposed and known, and yet Jesus’ relatives became and remained among His closest followers even unto death; how should this strengthen our faith in regard to Jesus being whom He claimed to be, and hence in regard to the truth of everything He taught?