SHEPHERD TO SHEEP
MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS
(Luke 1:48) For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
In the Christian church Mary spans the gap of veneration to indifference. Christians have been known to either exalt her or ignore her. Amongst fellow believers she has been left out of discussion for fear of dispute. But why set her high or leave her low when the Bible says she was chosen by God to bear the Savior of mankind? Let’s study about Mary and get a proper perspective of her life and calling.
Little is known of Mary’s personal history. Her genealogy is given in Luke 3. She was of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David (Luke 1:32). She resided at Nazareth. It was there the angel Gabriel announced to her that she was to be the mother of the promised Messiah (Luke 1:35). After this she went to visit her relative Elisabeth where she spoke the “Magnificat” (Luke 1:39-56). After three months Mary returned to Nazareth where Joseph was made aware of her divinely ordained condition (Matt. 1:18-25). Soon after this the decree of Augustus (Luke 2:1) required that they should make their way to Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). While there she brought forth her firstborn son, who they named Jesus (Matt. 1:25). This was followed by the presentation in the temple, the flight into Egypt, and the family’s eventual return to Nazareth (Matt. 2). During the next thirty years the only recorded event is the family going up to Jerusalem when Jesus twelve years old (Luke 2:41-52).
After the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry not much is recorded of Mary. She was present at the marriage in Cana (John 2). After this we find her at Capernaum (Matt. 12:46-50). The next place we find her is at the cross (John 19:26). From that point John looked after her. She was with the disciples in the upper room after the ascension (Acts 1:14). Some have said John took her to Asia Minor where she died and was buried.
The attributes of Mary are commendable. She was a humble woman who never expected to be chosen for such a role in history. She is seen as a godly woman of character, submissive and serving in the background. She is found praising and pondering. She is a model for women today of humility and obedience to the will of God.
So how did Mary get elevated from her humble position to one of reverence and even worship? Beginning with the adoption of the term 'Mother of God' in the fifth century there were several steps in the development of present-day veneration of Mary (Mariolatry). It was not until 451 A.D. that the dogma of the "perpetual virginity" of Mary (the idea that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life) was made binding upon all Roman Catholics. Then in 1854 A.D. Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of Mary (the doctrine that Mary was born completely free from original sin). Then in 1954 Pope Pius XII declared the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary (the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into heaven at the end of her life). Today many Christians pray to Mary and ask favors of her. She is given titles of Mediatrix and Co-Redemtrix.
No doubt Mary today would be appalled in regards to her elevation. She would point to the fact that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5) and that Christ is the only one who lives to make intercession for us (Heb 7:25). Only God is to be worshipped and served (Mat 4:10). She is not the mother of God, she is the mother of Jesus. We call her blessed because she was chosen by God from all the other Hebrew young women. Just like we are blessed when we realize we are chosen by God to bring forth Jesus to a lost world.