About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Why Mary?


I believe Catholicism has elevated Mary to an unbiblical place of universal supremacy by designating her to be the "Mother of God."  Portraying her as the primary spokesperson for Jesus, as seen in all those so-called apparitions of her in Catholic history, is also unbiblical.  I do, however, agree that Mary is an especially blessed woman in human history as seen in Luke 1:28 and 48. 


Jesus was just as much divine as He was human while He was on earth.  He needed a divine Father to care for His spiritual needs and a human mother to care for His human needs, but why choose a fourteen or fifteen year old Mary over another girl to be His earthly mother?  What could she have possibly done to have warranted such an important responsibility?       


If I tell you that Tim found favour with me, you might think he did something to warrant my favour.  With that thought in mind, read Luke 1:30 in the NIV. 


"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.'"


When thinking that Tim might have done something to find favour with me, you might also think that Mary did something to find favour with God, but did she? 


The Greek word translated as "favour" in Luke 1:30 is "charis," which is the primary Greek word translated as grace in our English New Testament.  If we know the theological implications of God's charis, maybe we can know if Mary did anything to warrant her divinely favoured calling in life. 


As it pertains to our salvation, all demonstrations of God's charis or grace are unmerited and undeserved.  That's why we define God's grace as being "unmerited favour."  If God chooses to love me, it is unmerited.  I didn't earn it, and neither did Mary, or so I believe.  When Luke 1:30 says that Mary found favour with God, favour is charis.  Favour is grace.  Favour is not earned.  Favour is not deserved.  Mary would have done nothing to warrant God's favourable choosing of her. 


This is confirmed in Luke 1:28.  There, the Christian Standard Bible quotes the angel telling Mary she is a "favoured woman," favoured from the Greek word "charis."  In the Greek text, "favoured woman" is a passive Greek participle.  That means she was a passive recipient of this favoured woman status placed on her by God.  She did nothing to earn it.     


In our attempt to understand a Biblical passage we must not incorporate our twenty-first century, western-world meaning of words and concepts.  We need to understand the passage in light of its cultural and linguistic setting.  So, Tim might have done something to deserve my favour as we think today, but not so with Mary who lived in a culture far removed from ours.


We can only speculate why God specifically chose Mary to be a favoured woman over another woman.  Yes, there were certain Biblical prerequisites that needed to be met, but that doesn't fully answer the question "why Mary?"  I could also ask, "why Adam, why Abraham, why Moses, why Paul, or how about, why you?"  Maybe you will agree with me when I say it is all a matter of God's grace and not of our works.               


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