Thursday, May 2, 2013

MARY: The Mother of Jesus or The Mother of God? (Part 1)

Billions around the world today profess faith in Jesus the Nazarene who is believed to be the Son of God. Many know that He was prophesied to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and will be crucified, died, buried and resurrected. His glorious gospel or message of HOPE and redemption for mankind is a reality that is readily available to anyone who will believe in Him.

Jesus is addressed "Lord and Savior" by any professing Christian in the world today. Anyone who is brought up in the Christian faith know that Jesus is Lord and the Savior of the world from sin and death. 

However, there is a very interesting twist in the development of "modern christianity"  that led to the belief that Mary, Jesus Christ's mother, has also officially become the "mother of God" because Jesus is also God.

This was the teaching that I grew up with while holding on to Catholicism. Majority in the catholic world have a special devotion to Mary as the mother of God since the Roman Church established this particular dogma of Mary, Mother of God.

According to, "
Church Tradition reveals to us that the faithful of the Catholic Church, from the days of its birth, have always believed that Mary was the Mother of God. Because of this belief that existed during the first centuries of the Church, the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431 A.D) proclaimed the dogma of Mary, Mother of God."

Although traditions are a part of the life we live while on this earth, I strongly believe that there is a need for us to search Scripture and study directly from God's Word in order to TEST and PROVE if the traditions handed down to us are really in-line with God's Truth.

So, what is really the TRUTH about Mary's role and title in life? It is imperative that we will find the answer to the question, "Is MARY the Mother of God?"

Worship, Honor & Glory to Mary

Growing up in a Catholic culture, I have always been taught that the role Mary plays in the Catholic Church is very special. She is esteemed as one who is able to hear the prayers of many catholic faithful. She is honored, adored, revered, venerated (or worshipped) as the Queen of Heaven because the Roman Catholic Church has also taught that she was assumed to heaven and was crowned to be the queen of heaven alongside her Son and God the Father. There are devotions to the Mary of the Catholic Church and these devotions are vast and vary widely within the Church's faithful. 

The myriad of prayers offered to Mary by the Catholic faithful is evidence of the deep veneration, honor and glory given to her as the "Mother of God". Her role has been elevated to not only being the mother of Jesus on earth, but she has also now become the mother of God Almighty. Her deification in the Catholic realm is something that most catholics do not really ponder about. It seems to be natural and a given for anyone born into a Catholic family to be brought up believing that Mary CAN and indeed hear the prayers of billions across the world and that she can help the many souls who run to her for assistance. 

Many catholics do not see anything wrong with praying to her as someone who is able to answer prayers of billions of souls across the world. I know that first-hand as I once was a Catholic myself. The upbringing of a person in a catholic culture allows one to embrace fully what the Catholic church teaches about Mary. She is easily loved by billions of souls as their Co-Mediatrix and the Mother of their God.

A careful look into these beliefs, though, must lead us to seek for more answers if one would want to be fully standing on God's TRUTH and not just handed-down traditions. For example, many catholics do not really think twice about Mary's ability to hear ALL of the prayers sent by billions of people across the globe. If she does, there is only one way she can do so... be as OMNIPRESENT & OMNISCIENT as God Himself! But catholics refuse to believe that Mary has been deified by the church. There is still that place of shadows where things aren't really as clear as they should be for everyone to understand and that they will leave it as it is and take whatever the Magisterium of the Roman Church teaches as Truth.

But does the Mary of the Bible really deserve the honor, glory and worship that the Catholic church gives to her? Is she really the Mother of God who is now a co-mediator, able to hear every prayer and help every soul in need who calls to her? Must we really hold her up as the "Queen of Heaven," the "most gracious Mother of God"?

Let us dive into God's Word for the answers...

I. The explanation of the Catholic Church

If we look at this explanation from this angle alone, we can indeed see the seemingly logical flow which will result to the conclusion that Mary is the "Mother of God". According to the Catholic church, since Mary is the mother of Jesus and Jesus is truly God, then Mary is the mother of God.

Although we see scriptures here to supposedly support the three arguments that will conclude to Mary being the mother of God, we MUST test it against God's Word and see if these were really so.

Let's search and study God's Word for this, shall we?

#1 Mary, the mother of Jesus

There's never a question that the young virgin named Mary was the one chosen by God to be the vessel for His only begotten Son. Years before this event even took place, prophets of old had already prophesied of the virgin birth of the One who will save His people from sin and death.

The gospels were clear that it was Mary, the descendant of David from Nathan's lineage (see Luke 3) who was the one chosen by God Almighty to be the vessel of His incarnate Word. His eternal plan for the salvation and redemption of humankind was fulfilled in the virgin birth of Jesus through Mary.

It doesn't take a scientist for us to acknowledge that any woman who carries a baby inside her womb for nine months and gives birth to that baby is the biological MOTHER of that child. A MOTHER can also be a mother through adoption, but Mary's motherhood came by the work of God through her. She was and is the mother of the mortal and fully human Jesus that she carried for nine months in her womb, as well as gave birth physically. 

Have you ever asked why Jesus had to be born of a VIRGIN birth? Well, because humanity has already fallen since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and sin and death entered the world through one man (Romans 5:12). Many stumble upon the truth of Jesus the Son of God becoming fully human because of this particular truth, that ALL have sinned. How can a HOLY, HOLY, HOLY God be born of sinful flesh? 

There is honesty in that question because Scripture tells us that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)! Since God's Word is truth (John 17:17), then Mary and Joseph were sinners as well. 

They both were under the same curse that the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE was under after the fall. ALL, EVERYBODY, EACH HUMAN BEING fell short of the glory of God because of sin.

Mary was very much aware of her own sinful nature, and it is because of this that she acknowledged how GREAT & MIGHTY a work GOD is going to do through her when the angel Gabriel told her of God's will. Her own words show us what she understood to be TRUTH in her life...

46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
(Luke 1, KJV)

Mary responded to her cousin Elizabeth with a very REVEALING STATEMENT that God was and REMAINS her SAVIOR. The word "Saviour" in its original form literally means "a deliverer." This truth must resonate in us because sin and death is a reality for ALL OF US, including Mary's, and she acknowledged God to be her SAVIOUR, because she KNOWS and understands that she needs REDEMPTION from the wages of SIN which is death.

She has understood that it was God's sovereign Grace to look upon HER despite her "low estate" and to do great things through her. She described herself as having a "LOW ESTATE," which is the greatest evidence of how she understood her fallen state. 

The term "low estate" that Mary used was actually ταπείνωσις, εως, ἡ (tapeinósis), which literally means inner lowliness describing the person who depends on the Lord rather than self. It is spiritual abasement or "humiliation". Metaphorically, it lead her to perceive and lament her (moral) littleness and guilt. Mary was greatly humbled by the fact that even with her  fallen state, God chose her to be the vessel of God's fulfillment of prophecy!

Mary was a virgin who never had a sexual relationship with a man before. She asked the same question when she replied to Gabriel, "How can this be?" But let's take a look at the angel Gabriel's response to her...

"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

It is very interesting to see that the angel Gabriel explained to Mary how it will become possible that she will bear a child WITHOUT any sexual relationship with a man (because human nature calls for BOTH a man and a woman to be united physically in the sexual act in order to procreate)... and so he said, "the POWER of the HIGHEST shall OVERSHADOW THEE."

It is not based on biblical truth that the Holy Spirit had to go through a form of physical/biological union with the virgin Mary in order to have "made" the baby Jesus. This is a heresy that is taught by some religion today

Scripture tells us that it is through the POWER of God Most High that shall "OVERSHADOW" Mary that will bring forth the possibility of the Son of God to be placed in her womb. I love to do root word studies and just to share with you... "overshadow" here in the root word means 'to envelope'. Scholars present that this overshadowing "brings about God's deliberate wisdom into the scene. It is the immutable aspect of God's plan – purposefully arranging all physical circumstances, which guarantees every scene of life works to His eternal purpose. It is "God's immutable will for physical circumstances.""

Now, as the angel Gabriel explained to Mary, God's sovereign POWER is going to be what makes God's plan possible. Because of the virgin birth, Jesus Christ never had the taint or curse of SIN in him (Hebrews 4:15) as he wasn't born out of the sexual union of a man and a woman. Is there any passage in Scripture that can show us of what God has done in Mary's womb? Well, there is a very beautiful truth written in Hebrews 10... 

1For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again madeof sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
5Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
6In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) 
to do thy will, O God.

If Jesus was formed from the biology of Mary, the flesh of Mary is under the curse of sin and so Jesus would have been born in sin as well. But this wasn't the case as we see here. In verse 5, Jesus said that God has PREPARED A BODY for Him and that He came to do the will of God.

Is it possible that when the power of God most High overshadowed Mary, He arranged for a body to be formed in the womb of a virgin? It is untainted by the curse of sin because it was not created out of the biological make-up of Mary and Joseph! Read Luke 1:35 again, and you will see that the angel Gabriel even described the baby as "THAT HOLY THING which shall be born..." 

Remember, that Scripture tells us THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO NOT ONE (Romans 3:10). This is because of the sin that entered through one man. But the body of the baby in Mary's womb, the angel Gabriel described as a "HOLY THING." Why? Because it never had the unrighteousness that ran through all of mankind. The flesh which bears flesh is carnal and is destined for death. 

The body that God prepared for the Lord Jesus was formed NOT out of the biological processes that occur when an ovum is fertilized by a male sperm, but it is out of the POWER and OVERSHADOWING OF GOD ON HIGH! Impossible, you say? Well, the angel Gabriel said it once to a perplexed young virgin who asked, "How can that be?"... and he told her... "With God nothing is impossible." (Luke 1:37)

It is undeniable that Mary is the mother of Jesus, who is the baby that was in her womb. It was through her that the virgin birth became fulfilled. Her faith made her obey and walk on even when her eyes cannot see the possibility of the message of Gabriel in the human realm! Her response testifies of her humble obedience to the sovereign power and might of the God Almighty, and her utmost joy to have found favor in the eyes of her God.

Now Mary carried the baby Jesus in her womb for 9 months and gave birth to him physically. Does this officially make her the mother of GOD? We will continue to seek for God's Truth from His Word in the next part of this series on MARY: The Mother of Jesus or The Mother of God?


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