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Mary... Queen of Heaven? Part II

 Carol Brooks
(Edited by Vicki Narlee)

Also See
MARY WORSHIP   APPARITIONS OF THE VIRGIN MARY THE REAL MARY OF THE BIBLE

Part I... Previous Page
 Part I

Various titles given Mary did not come from Scripture, "Queen Mother"... intercessor to the king and prominent role in the kingdom?... Not according to Scripture,  Mary... Arrayed in gold? Did Gabriel and Elizabeth's Words Signify Mary Had An Exalted Position? Who, According To Jesus, Is "Blessed" And Part of His Family? and more


Part II... This Page

The Wedding at Cana
Mary’s Role and Jesus’ Response
The Significance Of, and Reason For, The First Miracle.  (At Least.... According to John)
Replacing The Rituals
The Abundance of Wine

The Woman of Revelation 12

Grandiloquent Claptrap Replaces Very Impressive Scriptural Truths
The Magnificat

Conclusion
 


The Wedding at Cana
Many Catholics will use the wedding in Cana as an example of how Mary intercedes for people.

They say that when Mary noticed that the wine had run out she, probably concerned for the honor of the family, asked Jesus to help. He, although His time had not yet come, performed the miracle of turning water in to wine... not only enough for the wedding party but if, as some figure, each of the six stone water pots held twenty or thirty gallons, with plenty left over. In other words, Jesus helped the newly wed couple because His mother asked Him to.. because she interceded for them. And, as He heeded her request then, He heeds her request now.

But, is this exactly what happened? And is the point of the story the efficacy of Mary's intercession?

It is important to note that Mary never specifically asked Jesus for a miracle, but simply apprised Him of the situation. This is hardly surprising. Although Mary knew He was the promised Messiah, she had never, as far as we know, seen Him do anything that could be termed miraculous. What exactly she expected from Jesus is something we can but speculate about.

However, Jesus' answer should be thought-provoking. He neither turned His mother down, nor agreed to her request. Instead His response was "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come."

Although the Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus lived "in subjection to" His parents [Luke 2:51], this statement follows the incident when Mary and Joseph thought they had lost Jesus, and only found Him after three days in the temple "sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions" [Luke 2:46]. His parents were obviously upset, and asked why He had treated them so. Even in those early days, Jesus' response was a gentle reproof. He said "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" [Vs. 49 NASB]. In other words, Mary and Joseph should have known that the Son of God was safe, and that his heavenly Father would take care of him.

It seems that Jesus' response to Mary at the wedding was couched along these lines, with the added dimension that He was now a grown man.. the Messiah who would eventually establish His own kingdom on earth (See What And Where is Heaven?). The bounds of their relationship is yet again being established. His first and foremost priority was to be about the Father's business.. in the Father's time.  

It is also to be noted that Mary was neither offended, nor upset. She did not argue and she did not plead, but simply turned to the servants and told them to do whatever Jesus instructed them to do. This should make it pretty obvious that she left the entire matter in the hands of her Son to do as He pleased.  They should obey whatever, if anything, He told them to do.

Sadly, I recently read a post by Supreme Chaplain Bishop William E. Lori on the Knights of Columbus Catholic web site. In his words...

    Yet, Mary persisted, remembering the signs and wonders that accompanied Jesus' coming into the world. She urged her son to reveal something of his glory in anticipation of his "hour" — that is, the hour of his saving death and resurrection. [20]

Which is a classic case of making it up as you go along. Unless the Bishop happened to be one of the guests at the wedding, there is no way he could know Mary "urged her son to reveal something of his glory", much less what she was remembering at the time. The Bible says absolutely nothing about any of these 'extras' we are so fond of writing into the Scriptures.

So what was the point of the story of Cana? Most people at the wedding, with the sole exception of Mary, the servants and the disciples, were apparently completely unaware that a miracle had even taken place.


The Significance Of, and Reason For, The First Miracle.  (At Least.... According to John)

We have to remember that each of the Gospels had a different focus and emphasis which, when seen as a whole, formed a complete picture of who Jesus was. For example, the Gospel of Matthew, undoubtedly intended for the Jewish community, primarily focuses on Jesus as the Messiah who historically fulfilled the prophetic predictions and promises mentioned throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. Luke, who seemed to have written primarily to the Gentile world, places emphasis on Christ as the "Son of Man," that is, the humanity of Christ. This is why it made sense for only Matthew and Luke give us the genealogy of Christ and the Nativity account, which established both Messianic and human lineage.

Although, Bible students tend to focus on different aspects of the narrative, perhaps we should allow the evangelist to tell us what his purpose was in including the wedding at Cana in his Gospel, although none of the other three did so. We have to bear in mind that he, himself, clearly identified the primary purpose of his Gospel ...

    but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. [John 20:31 NASB]

Everything John wrote was to prove that Jesus was God Himself, through whom we may have life. The miracle of changing the water into wine was the first of many signs that caused His disciples to believe in Him. Obviously, this first sign is connected with, and had the same purpose as all the others that followed... it revealed who Jesus was... [Emphasis Added]

    This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. [John 2:11 NASB]

In other words, as said by W. Hall Harris III, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary [Emphasis Added]

    Scholarly interpretations to the contrary, John does not put primary emphasis on the replacing of the water for Jewish purification, or on the change from water to wine, or even on the resulting wine. John does not focus on Mary and her intercession, nor on why she made the request or whether she pursued it further after Jesus' initial response. John does not focus on the reaction of the master of the feast or the bridegroom. The primary focus, as for all the Johannine stories, is on Jesus as the One sent by the Father to bring salvation to the world. What shines through is his dovxa, and the only reaction emphasized is that of his disciples when they believed in him.  [21]

However, there are also some other, less obvious, but extremely significant aspects to the story.


Replacing The Rituals

Because the Jews traditionally washed their hands before sitting down to a meal.. a ritual purification, the water in the six stone water pots that Jesus changed into wine, was there for the purpose [John 2:6], it is entirely possible that this miracle signified the advent of the Messianic age. that the Old Testament emphasis on regulations was being replaced by the New Testament emphasis on grace. [See Mark 7:1-24]

    Thus the headwaiter's statement at the end of the scene, "You have kept the choice wine until now", can be understood as the proclamation of the coming of the messianic days. In the light of this theme Mary's statement, "They have no wine" becomes a poignant reflection on the barrenness of Jewish purifications.

In any case, these particular traditions were not part of the laws of Moses, but man made rules or conventions handed down as proper and binding. They were meaningless rituals, that went no further than skin deep, In fact, the Pharisees were distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, looking to a scrupulous outward obedience to God's law to merit blessing, all the while bragging that they were not sinners like other men.

See Jesus and The Law


The Abundance Of Wine
Although there are different calculations as to how much good wine Jesus made at the wedding, one thing is certain...  there was quite a bit of it. It is extremely striking that the Old Testament prophets consistently portrayed an abundance of wine as one of the symbols of the richness and joy of the coming kingdom. For example

    The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.  [Isaiah 25:6 NASB]

    "They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, And they will be radiant over the bounty of the LORD-- Over the grain and the new wine and the oil, And over the young of the flock and the herd; And their life will be like a watered garden, And they will never languish again." [Jeremiah 31:12 NASB]

    Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon. [Hosea 14:7 NASB]

    The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.  [Joel 2:24 NASB]

    And in that day The mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD To water the valley of Shittim. [Joel 3:18 NASB]

    "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine And all the hills will be dissolved. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. [Amos 9:13-14 NASB]

    "Ephraim will be like a mighty man, And their heart will be glad as if from wine; Indeed, their children will see it and be glad, Their heart will rejoice in the LORD." [Zechariah 10:7 NASB]

Which is no more than an echo of the promises made to the nation of Israel, in the book of Deuteronomy

    "Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you." [Deuteronomy 7:12-13 NASB]

Jesus' first miracle, the first sign of who He was, produced an abundance of wine and was quite likely to be a foretaste of the kingdom to come.


The Woman of Revelation 12
It is common in Roman Catholic art to represent Mary as standing on a crescent moon with twelve stars around her head. This stems from Revelation chapter 12, which depicts a woman "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars".  [Vs.1]. The next few verses go on to say...

    [2]  and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. [3] Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.  [4] And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.  [5] And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. [Revelation 12:1-5 NASB]

Being glaringly obvious, there is no argument that the child who was "to rule all the nations with a rod of iron" is Jesus Christ, the Messiah who rose from the dead, ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11), and who will return bodily to this earth in power and glory to crush all opposition and to reign in righteousness from Jerusalem, the throne of David.

    "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.'" [Revelation 19:15-16 NASB]

    "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware". [Psalms 2:8-9 NASB]

The dispute has arisen over the identity of the woman portrayed in John's account. Opinions vary greatly. Catholics believe that she is the Virgin Mary, while most Protestants tend to believe the woman is a symbolic reference to Israel. Others identify the woman as the church.

The problem is that none of these opinions are without merit, and none of them are without problems.


The Church

The belief that the woman is the church is usually based on the fact that she flees into the wilderness, to a place prepared by God, where she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. The time frame is the equivalent of three and a half years (forty-two months) the length of time the nations will tread under foot the holy city and the two witnesses will prophesy [Revelation 11:1-3].

In the opinion of some segments of the church, this is intricately linked with "Daniel's seventieth week". According to this view, in the latter part of the seventieth week, a remnant of Israel will flee into the wilderness to escape the persecution of the Antichrist.

However, this as a sole option can quickly be dispensed with, simply because the church did not give birth to Jesus. It was the other way around. Which leaves us with but two possibilities....


Israel

While it is true that Mary gave birth to Jesus, it is also true that Jesus, the son of David from the tribe of Judah, came from Israel. In a sense, Israel gave birth to, or brought forth, Christ Jesus. Additionally, Isaiah referred to Israel as a "woman" [54:5-6].

Support for this interpretation comes from the fact that the image of the sun, moon, and twelve stars around the woman's head are very definitely an allusion to Joseph's dream in Genesis 37:9-11, in which the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to him. Jacob, his father, clearly understood that he himself was the sun, Joseph's mother Rachel, was the moon, and his twelve sons, who became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, were the stars.

    Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?" [Genesis 37:9-10 NASB]

There is another analogy with Israel. In Exodus 19, God called to Moses from the mountain, saying...

    "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself." [Exodus 19:3-4 NASB]

... which was a reference to the Lord freeing Israel from slavery in Egypt. Like the nation of Israel, the woman is said to go into the wilderness for a period of time.

    But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. [Revelation 12:14 NASB]

However, Mark Brumlev, managing editor of The Catholic Faith magazine (cited earlier) outlines several problems with the non-Marian interpretations. One of which is that...

    The Dragon, i.e., the devil, pursues the Woman after she gives birth to the Messiah. Unable to attack her, the Dragon then makes war against the Woman's other offspring. If the Woman is Israel, how is it that the Dragon pursues her and makes war against her children? These children are clearly disciples of Jesus (Rev 12:17). Why would Israel be depicted as the Mother of Jesus' disciples, which is what would be the case if the Woman were simply Israel? Furthermore, is it likely that John would depict Israel as the Mother of the Messiah? [22]

In the first place, John didn't 'depict' anything, but simply recorded what he was shown. In the second place, ALL believers are the spiritual 'sons' of Abraham, the father of Israel, justified by faith just as he was. Our spiritual roots are clearly tied to Abraham.

    For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, [Romans 4:16 NASB]

    Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. [Galatians 3:6-7 NASB]

    And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. [Galatians 3:29 NASB]

In fact, Jesus Himself, told the Pharisees that priding themselves on being 'sons of Abraham' would get them precisely nowhere... in the absence of righteousness, and obedience to God's will, the mere privilege of birth, would avail them nothing.

    and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.  [Matthew 3:9 NASB]


Mary
One argument made for the woman being Mary is that, since the other two main characters in the chapter are identified as specific individuals (Jesus being the male child, and Satan the dragon), it seems likely that the woman, as the third major character, would also be an individual, not symbolic of a group. However, a large problem in literally seeing the woman as Mary is in the fact that, later in the chapter, Christians are indicated as being children of the woman,

    So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.  [Revelation 12:17 NASB]

The New Testament never refers to Christians as the children of Mary. Although Abraham was called a spiritual father, Mary is never referred to as a "spiritual mother".

However, I believe we are majoring on the minors...  Catholics seem determined to prove the queenly dignity of Mary by John's magnificent vision of a woman. Non Catholics, often in an effort to refute this, will see the woman as symbolizing Israel or the church, plus a few much less likely possibilities.


The Symbolism of Revelation
Even the most conscientious and diligent student of the Bible will, if honest, admit that some Biblical passages pose a great deal of difficulty. And this becomes even more true when it comes to the book of Revelation which, falling as it does under the genre of apocalyptic literature, is one of the most perplexing and misunderstood books ever written.  The language and style of apocalyptic literature in general, and Revelation in particular, is not literal but highly dramatic in order to portray enormous, almost indescribable, spiritual realities, in a way that sears itself onto the human brain.

The events depicted in Revelation were often deliberately exaggerated and, in some cases, even bizarre, in order that the message neither underestimated nor soon forgotten. Revelation's often bewildering and sometimes weird array of symbols... angels with trumpets and bowls, beasts emerging from the sea, locusts shaped like horses with tails like scorpions, waters turning to blood, a bottomless pit, dragons with seven heads, a woman sitting on a scarlet beast etc. form a rich tapestry that describes cataclysmic events.

However, Revelation was was never intended to be a kind of puzzle in which every symbol has to be cleverly interpreted. While we should endeavor to understand as many of the details as possible, Revelation was written to give us a general idea as to what to expect. The broad brush strokes are of paramount importance and, at the same time, relatively simple to understand. The fundamental message... the thread that runs through the entire book is an assurance that, ultimately, God will prevail and establish His kingdom here on earth which, is the goal of our faith.... the eternal 'Heaven" promised us.

I Suggest you read An Overview of Revelation

A Sign
What we need to remember is that the verse begins with the word sign ("A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with....."), translated from the Greek semeion, which means a perceptible or visible indication of something not immediately apparent. The word was used more often in John's Gospel than any other book of the New Testament, beginning with the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana, which caused the disciples to believe in Jesus [John 2:11].

Jesus' signs, or the miracles he performed, were an indication of who He was.

There are an additional 7 occurrences of the word "sign" between Revelation 12:1 and 19:20, three of which pertain to signs in heaven, and four to signs on earth. In Revelation 13, we are told that the beast that comes from the earth "performs great signs"... making fire fall from heaven to deceive those who dwell on the earth. [Vs. 13:13-14]. The spirits of demons also perform signs, which so impress the kings of the world that they gather together for war [Vs. 16:14]. However, since semeion was not used in the sense of a miracle in Revelation 12:1, John's vision of the woman of Revelation 12 had to be an indication of an event, or events.

The problem being that John's vision was not set in any particular time frame, which means he could have been describing a broad panorama of Biblical history.

And this certainly seems to be true.


The Sweeping Panorama of John's Vision
That Mary, who gave birth to the Messiah in His human form is, at least partially, indicated by the woman cannot be denied. Neither can we avoid the fact that the symbolism of the sun, moon, and stars refers to Israel from whence the Messiah came, not the royalty or queenship of the woman. However, there is no doubt that this symbolism paints a very glorious picture, not because of Israel or Mary, but to indicate that this "woman" and the child she gives birth to are of God.

Perhaps this can be made more clear, when we compare the woman of chapter 12... clothed with the sun, wearing a crown of twelve stars and standing on the moon, with the "woman" described in chapter 17, who was sitting on a scarlet beast, that had seven heads and ten horns. This other "woman" was clothed in purple and scarlet, adorned with jewelry and held a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality [Revelation 17:3-4 NASB]. She is later described as being drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus [Vs. 6]. [See See Two Babylons... Chapter 17.

As Bob Utley from Bible.org says [Emphasis Added]

    In apocalyptic literature the central theme of the vision is crucial, but the literalness of the presentation, the details and the images are dramatic, symbolic, fictional. It is our curiosity and respect for the Bible that motivates our detailed, logical, doctrinal formulations. Be careful of pushing the details; apocalyptic literature is often true theology presented in an imaginative frame-work. It is true, but symbolically presented! [23]


Grandiloquent Claptrap Replaces Very Impressive Scriptural Truths
The 10th paragraph in Pope Pius XII's 1954 encyclical (The Ad Caeli Reginam), tells us what Ephrem, a 4th century theologian from Syria, "burning with poetic inspiration", represents Mary as saying [Emphasis Added].

    ".. Let Heaven sustain me in its embrace, because I am honored above it. For heaven was not Thy mother, but Thou hast made it Thy throne. How much more honorable and venerable than the throne of a king is her mother." [S. Ephraem, Hymni de B. Maria, ed. Th. J. Lamy, t. II, Mechliniae, 1886, hymn. XIX, p. 624] [24]

Just as Ambrose of Milan could not possibly have known what Mary's life was (her spareness of food, her abundance of services ... on and on ad nauseum) before she was visited by the angel, there is absolutely no way that Ephrem could have known whether she actually said these words... [See Ambrose’s Concerning Virginity, along with comments in Footnote I]

It is truly sad that so many Catholics have gone to such lengths to establish Mary as this powerful, compassionate, 'Queen of Heaven', who's role it is to intercede with her Son on our behalf. The examples they use to show that Mary as 'Queen Mother' intercedes with her son, are either inaccurate or, at best, require a vast stretch of the imagination.

But here is what I find so tragic.

In making these elaborate, and usually ridiculous, claims about Mary, most seem to have ignored the fact that she was quite an amazing young woman. I find it wryly amusing that it is a Protestant that drew my attention to the qualities that the Bible attributes to her, rather than some inane flights of fancy that, for example, Ambrose of Milan, indulged in. (It seemed like all too many of the early church fathers preferred rhetoric to Biblical truths. Elaborate, pretentious ideas and speech trumped accuracy).

So what, according to the Scriptures, was so special about Mary?

Much of the following has been heavily borrowed from pastor Bob Deffinbaugh's article on Mary and Elizabeth, entitled The Worship of Two Women (Luke 1:39-56). As he says [Emphasis Added]

    There are those who have distorted the truth of God's word about Mary, and rather than regarding her blessed above all women, have honored her as above mankind, worshipping her and praying to her as though she were on the level of deity, or even above Messiah. This is clearly seen to be in blatant disregard for the teaching of our text. Nevertheless, others have reacted to this error by failing to see this woman as a model disciple. [25]

Mary's deep familiarity with, and faith in, the word of God, her grasp of His purposes and promises, her gratitude for the grace He bestowed on her, her submission to His will of God, and the very breath and scope of her vision are all reflected in her short hymn of praise, called .....


The Magnificat
The Magnificat, also known as the Canticle of Mary, is recorded in Luke 1:46-55. The title comes from the first word of the Latin version of the text... Magnificat anima mea, Dominum.

    [46] And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord,

    [47] And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

    [48] For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

    [49] For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.

    [50] and His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.

    [51] He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

    [52] He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.

    [53] He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed.

    [54] He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy,

    [55] As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever."

There are quite a few points to be noted here, especially the fact that Mary's theology was vastly superior to that of the scribes and Pharisees.


1) Mary's Hymn of Praise Was Directed To The Father
If we were to give the matter any thought at all, it would surely strike us that any young woman in Mary's position would be overwhelmed by the idea that the child she was carrying would be called the Son of the Most High, would be given the throne of His father David, and whose kingdom would have no end. Yet, Mary does not, even once, refer to the Son she has been promised.

Much to the contrary, her praise is centered on the Father who is sending His Messiah. In verses 49 and 50 she extols three of the greatest attributes of the Almighty... His power, His holiness, and His mercy.


2) Mary's Focus Was On God's Grace, Not The Law
It seemed the scribes and Pharisees who were the religious leaders of the day could not see beyond the rules and regulations of the Mosaic law. They insisted on ceremonial details at the expense of the more important precepts of the Law like justice and mercy, introducing hundreds of rules and prohibitions of their own, which were their interpretation of God's law.

In other words, they did a great job at keeping the letter of the Law, all the while totally ignoring the spirit of it.

While these religious leaders thought only in terms of human works, Mary viewed all of God's dealings in the light of His grace. She did not even mention the Mosaic covenant but, as Bob Deffinbaugh says, "understood that Israel's hope was rooted in the Abrahamic Covenant, not in the Mosaic". [26]

Also note her words (Emphasis Added)... "His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him". Those who "fear" God are the ones who keep His commandments.


3) The Sheer Breadth and Scope of Mary's Vision
To once more quote pastor Diffenbaugh

    We would expect Mary to be taken with the fact that she will have a baby, and that this baby will be the Son of God. While this is certainly true, Mary chose to focus on what the child would be and accomplish as an adult, and not what her child would be as a child. In other words, Mary's praise does not focus on the immediate blessedness of her having this child, but on the ultimate outcome of the coming of Messiah. She looks at the long range, not the short term. She views this event in terms of the distant past, in terms of the covenant promises of God, in terms of the history of Israel, where God's mercy was shown on generation after generation, and in terms of the distant future, when at His second coming Messiah will set things straight. At this time the social order will under a radical and violent reversal. The lofty will be put down and the humble will be exalted (vv. 51-52). The hungry will be fed and the well-fed will be hungry. The poor will be helped, but the rich will be sent away (v. 53)....

    Mary has a great breadth of understanding. She looks backward, to the covenants which God has made with Abraham and with His people in the Old Testament. She looks forward to the ultimate righteousness which will be established when Messiah reigns on the throne of David. Mary has a good sense of history and a broad grasp of God's purposes and promises. There is no provincialism to be found in her praise. [27]


4)
Mary Focused More On The Results Of Christ's Second Coming, Than She Did The First.
We can be quite certain that Mary had no idea that the purpose of Christ's incarnation was to offer redemption to mankind by His death on the cross, much less that He would come to earth twice, for two distinct purposes. Yet the scenario that Mary described.... God bringing down rulers from their thrones, scattering the proud, exalting the humble etc (Vs. 52-53) fits what will happen at Christ's second coming.

In fact her general theology matches that of her Son. He, many years later, greatly expanded her words when He preached the sermon on the Mount. For example, in verse 53, Mary said "He has filled the hungry with good things...", words which are specifically echoed in Matthew 5:7, when our Lord said "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied ".

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:3-10 NASB]

Taking a few moments to veer off course, I would like once again to quote pastor Bob Deffinbaugh, who taking a cue from two remarkable women, so well sums up the problem with our prayer life, and what we should endeavor to make it.

    How shallow our prayers and praise seem when compared with that of these two godly women. Our praise tends to be based almost exclusively on our pleasant and pleasurable experiences. Our praise tends to focus primarily on what God has done for us. We must seek to dwell much more on the character of God, of His covenant promises, and of His working in history, as well as in the future. The language of our praise should betray a continual soaking in the Scriptures and meditation on the terms and theology of the Bible.

    Our praise ... should especially be patterned after that of Mary, who did not focus on the tiny baby that she would soon hold in her arms, but in the God who sent Messiah and in the goal of His coming earth. This includes the immediate goal of redemption and salvation, but it especially includes the "setting right" of those things which are unjust and evil. These things are still future for us, as they were for Mary, for they will be accomplished at the second coming of our Lord. [28]

Finally...

5) Mary Does Not In Any Way View Herself As Better Or Holier Than Anyone Else.
Note her words in verse 48... "For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed".

In complete contrast to the vivid pictures Ambrose of Milan paints of her saintliness (none of which he could possibly have known), there is not the slightest hint that, she believes she was chosen because of her exemplary lifestyle or sinlessness. She said "For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed". If you read her words very carefully, it is apparent that she clearly believes that she was blessed because God chose her as an instrument to bring salvation to mankind.

In other words, her blessedness was because of God's grace, not the other way around. In fact she considered herself a sinner like any other.

Catholics will argue that, based on Christ's sacrifice, God saved Mary from all sin. In other words, she was exempt from original sin and immune from personal sin... a unique form of redemption known as redemptio anticipata (anticipated redemption). In other words, when she exclaimed "my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" (Vs. 46-47), she was referring to the fact that God had saved her from original sin, by not allowing her to become tainted with it. 

The problem is that sin is not a substance with physical properties that, like a virus, can be transmitted from person to person.  If it were a substance that could be physically passed on, then virtue, goodness, and righteousness must also be substances that can be transmitted physically. Sin is a conscious, willful act performed by an individual (in word, deed, or thought) that opposes God's will... it is an immoral choice made by the sinner, that transgresses God's law. Therefore apart from the sinner who makes the choice, then commits the act, sin can not even exist. In other words, "Original Sin" is a mere figment of the human imagination which, apparently, knows no bounds.

See Original Sin... Fact or Fable on THIS Page

Therefore without so called 'original sin', Mary's own words belie the idea that she, at the moment she spoke, was sinless. The only reason God is called "savior," is because He saves people from death, the penalty for sin.


Conclusion
In summary, there is no Biblical basis for calling Mary "lady", "queen of heaven", or any of the other titles the church has seen fit to bestow on her. When every point made to argue her sinlessness and position as "queen of heaven" is either baseless, or has extremely tenuous links with reality, then the entire superstructure has no foundation.

In giving Mary titles like "Mother of God" we are blurring some very important lines, simply because much of the world does not make the fine distinction that Mary was simply mother of God incarnate.

In other words, Mary did not "make God" in the same way a mother "makes" her baby. She was not the mother of Jesus' divinity, but was a vehicle for the incarnation. She simply carried God "in the flesh" in her womb. Technically, the church denied Mary as divine but, in effect, because it conveys a sense of holiness, the title 'Mother of God' implies that Mary had a role in creating divinity. The title gives the impression of bestowing on Mary a position that she does not hold.... mother of "God" Himself. Which is why so many in the Catholic church have elevated her to a position far above that of mere mortals.

And, as so admirably pointed out, in our myopic effort to enthrone Mary as some kind of perfect queen, and in our equally short-sighted efforts to refute these unscriptural ideas, we have forgotten that Mary and, to a lesser degree, her cousin Elizabeth, are outstanding examples of perfect disciples.

Examples we would all be well advised to emulate.

 


Footnote I..
Ambrose...(c. 340 – 397), Concerning Virginity (Book II)
A perfect example of men making it up as they went along is seen in Ambrose, archbishop of Milan's writings on Mary, the mother of Christ.

Ambrose, archbishop of Milan was one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century, and one of the four original doctors of the Church, who also had much influence on Augustine. Here is an example of Ambrose's inventiveness and creative thinking... how like many of the other 'theologians' of the day, he allowed his imagination to soar, and in doing so, paved the way for many of the false beliefs and doctrines in the modern day church.

    7. The first thing which kindles ardour in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose? What more chaste than she who bore a body without contact with another body? For why should I speak of her other virtues? She was a virgin not only in body but also in mind, who stained the sincerity of its disposition by no guile, who was humble in heart, grave in speech, prudent in mind, sparing of words, studious in reading, resting her hope not on uncertain riches, but on the prayer of the poor, intent on work, modest in discourse; wont to seek not man but God as the judge of her thoughts, to injure no one, to have goodwill towards all, to rise up before her elders, not to envy her equals, to avoid boastfulness, to follow reason, to love virtue. When did she pain her parents even by a look? When did she disagree with her neighbours? When did she despise the lowly? When did she avoid the needy? .....

    8. Why should I detail her spareness of food, her abundance of services — the one abounding beyond nature, the other almost insufficient for nature? And there were no seasons of slackness, but days of fasting, one upon the other. And if ever the desire for refreshment came, her food was generally what came to hand, taken to keep off death, not to minister to comfort. Necessity before inclination caused her to sleep, and yet when her body was sleeping her soul was awake, and often in sleep either went again through what had been read, or went on with what had been interrupted by sleep, or carried out what had been designed, or foresaw what was to be carried out.

    9. She was unaccustomed to go from home, except for divine service, and this with parents or kinsfolk. Busy in private at home, accompanied by others abroad, yet with no better guardian than herself, as she, inspiring respect by her gait and address, progressed not so much by the motion of her feet as by step upon step of virtue. But though the Virgin had other persons who were protectors of her body, she alone guarded her character; she can learn many points if she be her own teacher, who possesses the perfection of all virtues, for whatever she did is a lesson. Mary attended to everything as though she were warned by many, and fulfilled every obligation of virtue as though she were teaching rather than learning.

    10. Such has the Evangelist shown her, such did the angel find her, such did the Holy Spirit choose her. Why delay about details? How her parents loved her, strangers praised her, how worthy she was that the Son of God should be born of her. She, when the angel entered, was found at home in privacy, without a companion, that no one might interrupt her attention or disturb her; and she did not desire any women as companions, who had the companionship of good thoughts. Moreover, she seemed to herself to be less alone when she was alone. For how should she be alone, who had with her so many books, so many archangels, so many prophets? [29]

All of which begs the question... how did Ambrose know any of this?

Since he undoubtedly wasn't physically present during Mary's early years, nor knew anyone who was, there are only two options left. Either he was inspired of the Holy Spirit, or he simply had the audacity to embellish, elaborate and add to the simple stories told in the Scriptures. Considering that none of the inspired Biblical authors went into such rhapsodies over anyone's character (not even that of the Messiah) one can only conclude that Ambrose, like many others of his time, got carried away by their own extravagant enthusiasm.

I have even less idea how anyone reading these made up scenarios could accept them, when the fact is that the authors were fallible men, who's writings came from their own pens, not the mouth of God. Why can we not believe that had God wanted us to know the details of Mary's character, what wonderful deeds she performed, and what her 'spiritual" routine was before the birth of Christ, He would have told us.

While there is no question that Mary had one of the most important roles to play in all of Biblical history, we cannot forget that had Abraham not left Ur, Moses not confronted the pharaoh, Esther not bargained with the king, there would have been no Jewish nation.. and no Mary. Each one had their part to play to bring about the birth of the Messiah. but the point is that every one of these outstanding Biblical characters also had some character flaws... all part of being human. What made them outstanding men and women of God was their hearts.. their tremendous faith. Their desire to please God and trust Him absolutely always overcame their fears and initial hesitation (the 'who me?' syndrome).

None of them were believed to have been 'assumed' into heaven, nor been free of the so called stain of original sin which, by the way, is itself yet another myth. [Please see several article on Original Sin on THIS page]

Similarly, why can we not accept that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose "the best person for the job". Certainly, we can be sure that Mary was a young Jewish woman of probably exemplary character. However, taking into consideration the character of many others  who were called on to fill some very important, nay crucial, roles (Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Moses, Esther etc.), we can draw one certain conclusion... Mary was certainly a woman of faith who would have the strength and courage to trust God all the way to Calvary. Her faith and fortitude were not only her outstanding, but necessary qualities, without which she would never have been chosen.

So, when Ambrose pretends to know that strangers praised Mary, we need to take what he says with the proverbial grain of salt, and then look very carefully at anything else he wrote. If one of his beliefs is tarnished, to this extent, with the brush of fallacy, it stands to reason that others probably were too. [PLACE IN TEXT]

 

Endnotes

[20] Bishop William E. Lori. The Wedding Feast at Cana posted 12/29/2011.
http://www.kofc.org/en/columbia/detail/2012_01_chaplain_lori_en.html

[21] W. Hall Harris III.. Exegetical Commentary on John 2. https://bible.org/seriespage/exegetical-commentary-john-2

[22] Mark Brumley. Queen of Heaven: Pagan Divinity or Royal Mother of the Messiah? CatholicCulture.org.
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=2803

[23] Bob Utley, Revelation 12-14. https://bible.org/seriespage/revelation-12-14. Copyright © 2012 Bible Lessons International

[24] Ad Caeli Reginam. Encyclical Of Pope Pius Xii On Proclaiming The Queenship Of Mary.
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_11101954_ad-caeli-reginam_en.html

[25] Robert L. (Bob)Deffinbaugh. The Worship of Two Women.  (Luke 1:39-56)
https://bible.org/seriespage/worship-two-women-luke-139-56

[26] ibid.

[27] ibid.

[28] ibid.

[29] Ambrose of Milan. Concerning Virginity (Book II). Chapter 2. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 10. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1896.) Translated by H. de Romestin, E. de Romestin and H.T.F. Duckworth. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/34072.htm

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Index to Mary... Queen of Heaven? Part I

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