What About Mary?
In Matthew 22:29, Jesus made the remark to the Sadducees that they were wrong about a religious view because they were guilty of "not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, this standard applies to us as well. And I think of this as I travel around noticing that in many of our neighbor's yards, they have statues of Mary, the mother of Jesus, often placed in a bathtub as some sort of shrine to her, and it makes me want to check God's word to see how this "tradition" compares to God's wishes.
It doesn't take much time in Scriptures to see that Mary was, indeed, a very special person as Luke writes that "... the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.....And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God." (Luke 1:26-30) The Bible tells us, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." (2 Chronicles 16:9). Mary found favor with God because she most certainly had a heart like David's, whom God saw as having "an integrity of heart and uprightness." (1 Kings 9:4) We can see by her words, first to the angel (Luke 1:38) and then when she was with Elisabeth (Luke 1:46-49), that she had such a heart attitude as to both please and praise God. To the angel, Mary's words were, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." And then, as Mary was with Elisabeth, her heart is revealed further when she says so beautifully, " ....My soul doth magnify the Lord,.... And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed..." Scripture tells us that our words reveal what lies in our heart, (Matthew 12:34-37) thus, it's obvious that Mary had heart that magnified and rejoiced in God, recognizing Him as her Saviour, and her desires to serve Him according to His Word.
Scripture doesn't reveal very much additional information about Mary, outside of a few isolated moments. This is by design, no doubt, as the purpose of Scriptures is to point everyone to Jesus (John 5:29). In fact, the Bible tells us that mankind's purpose for existing is "for the praise of His glory," (Ephesians 1:11,12) and Mary was created for this purpose as well. Mary's role as the Mother of Jesus, was part of God's plan. However, Jesus made a point that, although Mary was His mother, that wasn't significant at all, as we see in Luke 11:27-28. It says, "....as Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you. He replied, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.' " Jesus was simply stating, what Scriptures consistently teaches, that the really important and blessed people are followers of Him. Since the Bible teaches that there is only one path and one Gospel message by which one can be saved, Mary's salvation was determined in the same way as all believers, not because she was Jesus' mother. We must be careful to keep in mind that the Bible shows God using others as well. Of John the Baptist, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11) The Bible says God used Solomon in a special manner as well, "I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be." (1 Kings 3:12). So just as God's Word speaks highly of John the Baptist, Solomon and David, Mary likewise was blessed and used by the Lord. And we, too, can be usable when our desire is to live in the same manner, as Mary had told the servants at the Cana wedding Feast, "...whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." (John 2:5) In our society, we are in a period of unprecedented religious and spiritual beliefs and activity regarding Mary that has reached far beyond simple backyard shrines of Mary in the bathtub to the extent of what Jesus warned that would happen in Matthew 24:24, "... and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." In a future article we'll look closer at many of these, but for now, we'll examine further about the shrines and how many erroneously refer to Mary as the "mother of God."
Is Mary the Mother of God? - No. This is a term that appears to be the root of much the faulty perceptions and practices concerning Mary that are common today. Yes, Mary was the mother of Jesus and Jesus is God, but similar to any marriage of mixed descendants, a mother wouldn't have her blood changed to the father's blood, a mother's origin wouldn't change to the father's origin, nor would the mother's race change to the father's race. Jesus was 100% human and 100% God, but even the Bible demonstrates a distinction. Example one - in James 1:13, it says: "....God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;" while at the same time in Hebrews 4:15, the Bible tells us: "...but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin." (Jesus was also tempted in Matthew 4 and Luke 4). Example two - Paul writes concerning Jesus, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:6,7) And example three - Consider what 1 Timothy 2:5 says: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" In all three examples there is a clear distinction that separates Jesus' physical life apart from His deity. To suggest that Mary was the "mother of God" would be an erroneous spiritualizing and twisting of the simple role given to Mary, ".... she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit." The fact that she was used by God to be the mother of the physical side of Jesus is clearly taught in the Bible, but anything beyond that is indeed what Jesus would refer to as traditions of men that go against Scriptures. (Mark 7:7-13) Consider further these three more profound Bible passages that should put this in its proper perspective. God asked Job, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding." (Job 38:4) Isaiah wrote, "Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?" (Isaiah 40:13) And also, concerning God, Isaiah adds, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8,9) Obviously, as we can see, no human including Mary could be the answer to these verses.
And finally, about those backyard shrines, consider the following Scriptures that, in addition, gives us more insights of why Mary isn't to be considered to be, "the mother of God,." as well. The Bible says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God..." (Exodus 20:4) and "Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God." (Deuteronomy 4:23-24) The Bible shows that sincerity could just make a person sincerely wrong as Jeremiah 7:18 illustrates: "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. " No doubt these people were sincere, yet they angered God.
So, in closing, we see that even today, we have many practices, just as Jesus told the Sadducees, that they were wrong about a religious view because they were guilty of "not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." It's time to get Mary out of the tub and remember that when she lived as Jesus' mother 2000 years ago, she lived, "according to thy word." We should do the same.