By Paul H. de Vries
Our LORD’s devotion to elevating Motherhood began at the beginning of humanity. Of all of our Creator’s plentiful earthly works, it is only woman and man who are made in God’s image, therefore, to officially represent God on earth. In addition, it is only woman and man who are given the active role of sharing some of the Almighty’s attributes, and to be “like God” [Genesis 1:26]
Furthermore, from the beginning, in their unflawed state of being, woman and man are divinely given two responsibilities – (1) to become fruitful through becoming Mothers and Fathers, and (2) to work in taking good care of the earth for the LORD, assisting plants and animals to be fruitful, too [Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15]. Thus, Motherhood was invented and elevated by our Creator from the beginning – to represent God, and to resemble God, and also to produce and help raise more amazing representatives of God, born and raised also to resemble God, their heavenly Father. Thereby, amazing human Motherhood was very highly elevated in the original creation order.
Even through the rebellious Fall of humanity, Motherhood is again elevated. Consider carefully the LORD’s comments to the demonic snake the aftermath of the Fall:
I will make you and the Woman hate each other.
Your children and her children will be enemies.
Then the Woman’s Son will crush your head.
And you will bite his heel.
Note that the prophesied Mother’s Son (without earthly father) will achieve victory over both the demonic snake and human sin. The promised Savior is a special miracle Son, the virgin-born Son, not involving a human father. Therefore, Motherhood was elevated from the Fall as the sole earthly source of life for our Savior. That stunning miracle prophecy was fulfilled through Mary of Nazareth, the Godly mother of our Savior.
Even before Jesus was conceived within her, Mary found favor with God. First of all, Mary was an image of God, created to represent her Creator. Second, Mary was created in the likeness of God, born to resemble her heavenly Father. Third, Mary was selected by God (a) to conceive our Savior, (b) to gently carry and nourish our Savior within her for 9 months’ pregnancy, (c) to carefully give birth to our Savior in the midst of profoundly hostile and uncomfortable circumstances, and (d) to conscientiously and kosherly Mother our Savior to become well prepared for his amazing Good News Salvation ministry on earth. Awesome Motherhood!
Now when the angel Gabriel greeted Mary, he said that she was “highly favored,” and that the Lord was with her. Mary’s work in Motherhood was the elevated LORD’s work assigned to her as Mother of our Savior. Mary is not the “Co-redeemer,” she is not the “Queen of the Universe,” and she is not an “Intermediary for our prayers,” regardless of what some of our Roman Catholic neighbors teach. No. No! No!! What Mary did as mother of our Savior – and what God did through Mary, mother of Jesus – elevated wonderful, awesome, human Motherhood for all mothers.
God our Savior could have come to earth as the Christ, Messiah, any of thousands of different ways – for example, (1) simply appearing, “teletransported” on earth as a grown person, or (2) arriving as a 10-year-old child needing adoptive parents, or (3) showing up for a few minutes or days in brief ministries as our Savior – like he did coming and meeting with Joshua to defeat Jericho [Joshua 5:13-6:27] and later helping the three Hebrew men in Nebuchadnezzar’s famous fiery furnace [Daniel 3]. However, God chose the awesome method of human Motherhood to bring our Savior to earth, again elevating human Motherhood for all time.
Now Mary was profoundly like all mothers and all fathers: Mary was never perfect, never sinless. Like all the Bible characters other than Jesus himself, Mary was flawed – but Mary was nevertheless an extraordinary, empowered, liberated model for all of us believers – women, men, and children.
- As she sang when was pregnant with Jesus, Mary openly praised the Lord as her personal “Savior” [Luke 1:46-50].
- The Gospel records also reveal a Mary that other flawed parents can relate to, such as:
- When she lost track of her 12-year-old Jesus in their Passover holiday trip to Jerusalem and to the Temple – and took 3-4 days to find him [Luke 2:41-52].
- The times when she seemed to lose faith in Jesus and tried to rescue her first Son from his and his family’s possible embarrassment [Mark 3:21].
Mary exuded amazing faithfulness and Godly leadership in raising Jesus – and also during Jesus’ ministry, and at the cross, and coming to the empty tomb, and in celebrating the resurrected Jesus, and in the prayer leadership with other women of the early Church preparing for special Holy Spirit empowerment, and then along with other women joining together with men for the 120 Pentecost speakers. “All” of them spoke the Gospel for the multilingual street ministry on the Day of Pentecost! [Acts 2:3-4]. Mary’s blessed and elevated Motherhood added strength to that Gospel proclamation. We should never speak of the “Church Fathers” only, without the “Church Mothers.”
What a Godly woman! What commendable character! What exemplary behavior! Mary is an excellent human model for all of us! No wonder the LORD elevated her Motherhood.
There is one more crucial Biblical reference to Motherhood and to Mary. This text is often misquoted, although it is an empowering revelation for all mothers and all women. Mary is unmistakably referenced in I Timothy 2, in a passage that many of our Bible translators badly mistranslate, because they miss the important points. Here is my literal translation of I Timothy 2:11-15:
When a woman is learning, she should be peaceable. She should collaborate with her leaders in every way. I do not let women teach tyrannically [literally!] over a man. They must be peaceable. That’s because Adam was made first. Then Eve was made. Adam was not the one who was tricked, but the woman was tricked and became a sinner. However, the woman will be saved through the birth of the Child – as they continue in faith and love and holiness, with discernment.
Did you see that? The Incarnation of our Savior is an essential part of the eternal Gospel story, and human Motherhood is an elevated essential part of the Incarnation of our Savior.
So how does the LORD elevate Motherhood? We have uncovered five ways: (1) By the LORD elevating Motherhood as crucial to the original creation order. (2) By the LORD elevating virgin Motherhood in the promised solution to the problems of the Fall. (3) By the LORD elevating Motherhood as the awesome method of bringing our Savior to earth. (4) By the LORD elevating human Motherhood with human Fatherhood in birthing the Church. And (5) by the LORD beautifully elevating Motherhood for the transformative eternal Incarnation of our Savior. Hallelujah!
Thank you, LORD, for elevating human Motherhood so beautifully and powerfully!
Paul H. de Vries, PhD, pauldevries.com, is the president of New York Divinity School, and a pastor, author, and speaker. He is a specialist in biblical hermeneutics and Biblical applied ethics, committed to Biblical activism. He is one of the founders of the Jewish-Evangelical RoundTable and also the Racial Reconciliation RoundTable in New York City.