Friday, March 25, 2011

The Women in the Genealogy of Christ: Part Five: Mary

The Women in the Genealogy of Christ: Part Five

The Bible
Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers
Three Days by Melody Carlson
Her Name is Woman, Book One by Gien Karssen
Roman Catholicism by Lorraine Boettner
Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle E. Cairns

Poor Mary. She’s hardly mentioned in Protestant circles because she’s mentioned so much in Catholic circles. Do you know many Protestants who name their daughter, Mary? No, although it’s a fine name and she was a remarkable woman. I think she would be shocked to see what’s been made of her: elevating her to the status of co-Redemptrix, giving her qualities of deity, pronouncing her sinless, immaculately conceived, ascended to Heaven, worthy of worship, a hearer of prayers, and the queen of Heaven. But more on that later.
Let’s see what Scripture has to say about her, and what Mary herself, has to say.

Read Matthew 1, 2, Luke 1, 2, 8, and John 19, 20

After the book of Malachi closes, there are over 400 years of silence before the events recorded in the Gospels. No prophets speaking. A sense of anticipation and expectancy. Surely God would do something and the Jews would be free of their Roman oppressors.
Many Jews had returned from exile; others were scattered throughout the nations. These were referred to as the ‘Diaspora’, or the dispersion.

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were born under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Galatians 4:4

The Fullness of Time

A Christian high school textbook called Christianity through the Centuries shows how this period of time was the most favourable for Christianity to make an impact on the world. Not before, and not since have all these political and cultural factors been in place on such a large scale.

1) Romans
-a large region under one law and government. Universal law and Roman citizenship; this idea anticipated a gospel that proclaimed the unity of the race both in setting forth the penalty for sin and the Saviour from sin.
-free movement because of peaceful development (Pax Romana)-the peace of Rome, or on Roman terms. Pompey swept the pirates from the Mediterranean, and Roman soldiers kept the peace on the roads in the realm. This allowed Christians to move from place to place to preach the gospel.
-roads radiated out from the Roman forum to all parts of the Empire. “All roads lead to Rome.”- built of concrete. Paul made use of these roads on his missionary journeys.
-Roman soldiers who converted to Christianity spread the gospel in the places in which they were stationed. i.e. England.

2) Greeks
-intellectual environment
-the Greeks conquered Rome culturally.-Horace
-universal language of the ancient world was Greek, like Latin in the Middle Ages, or English in the modern age.
-the Old Testament was already translated into Greek (the Septuagint)
-most cultured Romans knew both Greek and Latin
-dialect spoken was Koine Greek; a very precise language, i.e. four words for love.
-Greeks had turned from their old religions to philosophy, which could not fulfill (Stoics and Epicureans)
-Christianity alone could fill the vacuum of spiritual life.
-Christianity offered a personal relationship with God, to Greeks who had hungry hearts created by inadequate philosophy.

3) Jews
-the heredity of Christianity
-salvation was “of the Jews” John 4:22
-monotheism. After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews never again lapsed into idolatry.
-numerous synagogues throughout the Mediterranean for three centuries before Christ. These were the first places the gospel was preached, both by Jesus, and the apostles.
-Messianic hope
-Ten commandments; a pure ethical system
-reverence of the Word of God
-many proselytes to Judaism
-viewed history as having meaning
-Palestine was an important crossroad, linking Asia, Africa and Europe by a land route.

“This thing was not done in a corner.” Acts 26:26

“In the period of its birth and three centuries afterward, conditions were more favourable for the spread of Christianity throughout the Mediterranean world than at any other time in the ancient or medieval eras.” Christianity through the Centuries, pg. 43

Who are the Players in this Story?


-older than Mary; a carpenter by trade; of the line of David; betrothed to Mary.
-a betrothal was binding, and breaking the engagement was equivalent to divorce.
-relatively poor, as evidenced that they could only purchase a turtle dove for sacrifice, rather than a lamb.
-the gift of gold from the Magi, if it was significant, would have helped with family expenses over Jesus’ lifetime.
-Joseph was genuinely shocked to find out that Mary was pregnant, because he knew he wasn’t the father. He came to the only logical conclusion; Mary had slept with someone while engaged to him.
-yet he still loved her and didn’t like the idea of shaming her, or seeing her put to death, as the law required.
-if not for divine intervention, he probably would have gone ahead with the annulment and been done with it.
-an angel tells him not to fear, but to go ahead with the marriage because of the special nature of the child in her womb.
-Joseph is an honourable man and a mature believer, since he must have been aware that his reputation would be at stake as well. People would talk, and what could he say? How could he possibly explain the situation?
-because of the unique circumstances, he marries her, but does not sleep with her until after she gives birth to Jesus.
-until suggests that after that time, he did sleep with her, as would be expected in a normal marriage.
-the list of the names of their other children attest to this (Matt. 13:54-56) (Mark 6:3), as well as the reference to her ‘first born son’, which implies other sons.
-four brothers are named. Also, since sisters are plural, we can assume at least two, perhaps more, since it says ‘all’ and not ‘both’. At least six or seven children were born after Jesus.
-also John 7:5 “Most natural meaning is the other sons of Mary and Joseph. People at large did not believe in him, but here John says even his own brothers, the members of his own family, did not believe in him.” Roman Catholicism pg. 157
-Psalm 69:8 –Messianic psalm “I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children.”
-Acts 1:14 his brethren are mentioned in addition to the disciples.
-they were his half brothers and sisters, being the children of both Joseph and Mary, while he is the child of Mary alone.
-Mary’s virginity until Jesus was born was the only thing needed to safeguard the deity of Christ and the purity of Mary. Nothing beyond that is required.

“To remain virgins after this is an unnatural relationship. It is absurd, and nowhere in Scripture is approval ever given for such an abnormal relationship. Such an arrangement would have been contrary to nature and simply a frustration to both parties.” Ibid pg. 158

-Mary did not remain a perpetual virgin, as the Roman Catholic church teaches. Neither did Joseph.
-the reason for this view, other than to elevate Mary, is to justify the celibate state of priests and nuns.

-“Rome teaches that the single state is holier than the married state and that there is something unclean and defiling about marriage.” Ibid pg. 158

-Joseph teaches Jesus his trade of carpenter and that is what Jesus is doing until his 30th year.
-the absence of any mention of Joseph in the narratives during the ministry of Jesus suggests that Joseph had died at some point before that.
-we don’t know what he died of, but it’s interesting to note that Jesus did not heal him. It’s not likely that He could not heal, but that since the time had not yet come for His publicly ministry to begin, He chose not to heal Joseph. How did Mary feel about that, I wonder?
-as the eldest son, the care of the family fell to Jesus.
-at the beginning of His ministry, when Jesus left carpentry for good, the care of the family would have fallen to His younger male siblings, who also would have been apprenticed as carpenters.
-however, as Jesus was dying on the cross, He handed over care of His mother to his favourite disciple, John, over His yet unbelieving siblings. Read John 7:5.
-this shows us something of the character of Christ, to be concerned about the welfare of others, even as He is dying an excruciating death.

Joseph receives supernatural revelation four times; Mary, just once.
1) When he is told to marry Mary.
2) When he is instructed to flee Bethlehem and go to Egypt.
3) When he is told to leave Egypt and return home.
4) When they settle in Nazareth.
-each time they moved, he obeyed quickly. He left all, his home, family and business to protect the family God had given him charge of.
-they left Bethlehem just before the slaughter of the innocents. (Matt. 2:14-16)
-how must they have felt when they heard about the massacre by Herod?
-Joseph was an outstanding man, since he was chosen by God to be the foster father to our Lord.


-a young girl of marriageable age; perhaps 14-15.
-after 400 years of silence, since Malachi, everyone was anticipating what God would do.
-every young woman wanted to be the mother of the Messiah.
-they were feeling the heavy oppression of the yoke of Rome.
-betrothed to an older man in an arranged marriage. She may have loved him, or at least respected him.
-very brave, as she realizes that there will be public scorn over her pregnancy.
-she travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is also pregnant. Mary knows about this from the angel, Gabriel who had announced her pregnancy.
-Mary and Elizabeth’s babies have an instant bond, even before birth. They would not meet until Jesus’ baptism, even though they were second cousins. John spends his life out in the wilderness.
-we know Mary is also of the family line of David, but we don’t know her mother’s name. The Roman Catholics, since they believe in the immaculate conception of Mary, have to go back a generation to venerate her mother, too. Since she is not named, they make up a name, like they do for the Magi, but there is nothing in Scripture to substantiate that. They name her Anne, so they could make her a saint, and pray to her. Also the reason many Catholics will combine the names Mary-Anne or Anne-Marie, to get the ‘blessing’ of both women. But I digress. This topic brings out the Protestant in me.
-Mary knew the heartache of having unbelieving children. James, however, becomes a believer and the head of the church in Jerusalem and presided at the Jerusalem council. (Acts 15:13,19).
-two books of the New Testament, James and Jude, were written by the sons of Mary and Joseph.
-the Roman Catholic church tries to explain these people away as cousins, even though there is a Greek word for cousin, and it is not used in reference to them.
-So, if Mary was about fifteen when she gave birth to Jesus, she would have been 48 when He was crucified. Hardly an elderly woman, but still a woman in a culture where she would have needed someone to provide for her.
-Mary experienced the humiliation of being the subject of gossip, the joy of family life for a time, the heartache of not knowing where a child is, and if he’s all right. She knew the pain of having unbelieving children. She had times of being proud of her son, and the great heartache as she watched His life taken away before her eyes.
-her courage is seen best at Calvary, where most mothers would have collapsed; she persisted.
-as you read the portions of Scripture where Mary is mentioned, you see a progressive distancing of her from Jesus. Family influence decreases as it does as our children grow up. But more than that, she began to see Him not as her son, but as her Saviour.

Regarding the R.C. view of the sinlessness of Mary:
1) After Jesus birth, Mary brought two offerings, one a burnt offering (symbolizing surrender of the will to God) and two, a sin offering (a sacrifice acknowledging sin).
2) In her psalm of praise to God she refers to Him as “God, my Saviour.” Luke 1:46-47
3) Her last recorded words were at Jesus’ first miracle, the wedding at Cana. They are very telling. “Do whatever He tells you to do.”
4) John, into whose care Jesus placed her, knew Mary the best, yet he records the least about her. That is significant.
5) When his brothers come looking for Jesus in Luke 8:19-21 Jesus begins to distance himself from His earthly family to show that the service to God, and in particular His work as Messiah is more important than anything else.
6) After Jesus is raised from the dead, Mary is seen in the upper room, along with the other disciples, praying, not being prayed to.
7) We have no details about her life or death after this. Her purpose in life, while significant, was over. She gave birth to the Messiah, raised Him, and then became one of His followers. Her work, like that of John the Baptist, had ceased.

-What must it have been like to have had the perfect child? No rebellion, no tantrums, no selfishness? She must have really noticed the difference once she had the other children.

Mary, Did You Know?
By Mark Lowry

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
And this child that you delivered
Will soon deliver you?

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know
That your baby boy
Will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
And when you kissed your little baby
You’ve kissed the face of God?

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy
Will one day rule the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy
Is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding
Is the great I AM.

A Brief Word on Mariolatry

-although I would like to focus just on the positive aspects of the life of Mary, reading only what we find out about her in Scripture, one can’t ignore the monolith of Roman Catholicism, which has deceived so many, in particular in relation to Mary.
-We already looked at the R.C. view of the perpetual virginity of Mary. Keep in mind, this becomes a slippery slope, and for one thing to be true, it assumes other things.
-the R.C. view of the immaculate conception; when a Protestant hears the term, they assume they are referring to Christ, and they would agree with that. They are referring to Mary.
-further, this leads to the doctrine of the sinlessness of Mary, both that she did not commit sin, and that she could not sin.
-all these steps lead to her deification (making her God). Mariolatry demands it. In order to give her the worship they feel she deserves, she must be sinless.
-there is no Scriptural support for this view, but then the R.C.’s never let that stand in their way. Further, they pronounced anathemas (curses) on anyone who did not believe these doctrines, or questioned them.
-Since Mary refers to herself as a sinner, that should settle whether or not a Christian should pray to her.
-she is an admirable character, greatly blessed by God, but she was not sinless. She was only human. She needed to be born again.
-they then had to go farther back to say that she was without original sin (a sinful nature), which is further attested to in her own virgin birth.
-then, if she has no sinful nature, and did not sin during her life, why would she need to die, since death is the penalty for sin?

-“She is given a supernatural entrance into life, and must have a supernatural exit from life.” Ibid. pg.163

-to fix that ‘problem’, one Pope said, she died, but rose again on the third day (sound familiar?) and was taken up into Heaven, escorted by Jesus and an entourage, and made the Queen of Heaven.
-read quote on page 162 of Roman Catholicism on the assumption of Mary.
-then, seated in Heaven, she makes intercession for the millions of people who seek her assistance. How does she do this, being a mere human? Can she hear all prayers, indeed, any prayers? Well, only if she is given the quality of omniscience.
-now, you can pray to her, since she is seen as MORE sympathetic than Jesus.
-this is totally false and missing the point of the incarnation, itself. That’s why God became man, after all. To feel what we feel.

-“They see her as having a mother’s heart, and influence over her son, because ‘what son would refuse the request of his mother?’” Ibid. pg 147

“How dishonouring it is to Christ to teach that He is lacking in pity or compassion for His people, and must be persuaded to that end by His mother! When he was on earth it was never necessary for anyone to persuade Him to be compassionate, rather when He saw the blind and the lame, the afflicted and hungry, He was ‘moved with compassion’ for them and lifted them out of their distress. He had immediate mercy on the wicked but penitent thief on the cross, and there was no need for intercession by Mary although she was there present. His love for us is as great as when He was on earth; His heart is as tender; and we need no other intermediary, neither His mother after the flesh, nor any saint or angel, to entreat Him on our behalf.” Ibid. pg 147-148

-the great antithesis is not between Eve and Mary, but between Adam and Christ.
-the R.C. view has Christ not as a risen Saviour, but a helpless babe or a dead man on a cross. This is the reason we don’t have crucifixes. The cross is empty, as is the tomb. We serve a risen Saviour!
-the R.C.’s, although they give Mary characteristics that only God can have, will admit she is not technically divine.
-nevertheless, they associate her with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in matters of salvation, and refer to her as a co-Redemptrix with Christ.

“At the present rate, we eventually shall have in Heaven no longer a Trinity, but a quartet!” Ibid. pg164

-What is the remedy for Mariolatry? Let the Roman Catholic people read their Bibles, particularly the New Testament. There they will find the living, compassionate, redeeming Christ, with very little said about Mary.”
-this is part of the reason they are discouraged from reading their Bibles.

- this series has looked at five simple, obscure women, made incredible because they were chosen to play a part in the greatest story ever told.

Questions or comments?

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