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A God with a Mother

April 03, 2019
By Rev. David French

To say that God and man are one in Jesus is not to say that Jesus has always been a fully-grown man. We know that, of course, considering we celebrate His birth every Christmas. But His incarnation didn’t begin at His birth. His taking on human flesh was a full nine months earlier, when the Second Person of the Trinity united Himself to a single gamete forming a human zygote or one cell human being, and at that moment, Mary became a mother and God became human.

To confess that Mary is the “Mother of God” is to say nothing about Mary and to say everything about her child, which is why the Early Church Fathers and the Lutheran Confessions insisted on this proper designation of the blessed Virgin.

To call her the Mother of God is to say that the from the time He was but a single cell the fullness of God lived inside her, as was the blastocyst, the embryo, the fetus, the infant, the toddler, the little boy. And. I’m sure, as you would guess, Jesus was fully and truly God also as and adolescent, teenager, and young man. Yes, the man with His arms outstretched on the cross of Calvary is truly God. Jesus, the Son of Mary is the Son of God.

And now, as He hangs dying on the cross, the prophecy Simeon gave to Mary, that a sword would pierce her own soul as well, is being fulfilled. And in this hour of His suffering and her grief, Jesus commends His mother into the care of His beloved disciple. He cares for her who has cared for Him.

When Mary was a young girl, pregnant and unwed, with this story about being the Mother of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, revealed to her by the angel Gabriel, do you think this is how she pictured things? When Joseph insisted on keeping her as his betrothed and took her with him to Bethlehem, did you think this is the road she thought they would end up on?

When they brought their forty-day-old baby to the temple for the rites of presentation and her own purification, and the white-haired Simeon added the footnote to his prophecy, “a sword will pierce through your own soul also,” do you think the pain she was feeling was what she thought of?

When she and Joseph anxiously searched through extended family for their missing twelve-year-old, only to find Him and His word, “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” did she understand this was the His and our door to that house?

When they were at the wedding in Cana, and she received a polite rebuke for asking Him to deal with the shortage of wine, did she think she knew how short her time with Him would be? When she heard rumors of His actions in the temple concerning the animals sold for sacrifice, did she think it would lead to this?

The Lutheran Confessions are clear that, if you refuse to call Mary the Mother of God, you are a Nestorian heretic and no Christian at all. Now, a little background: In the fourth and fifth century, Nestorius wanted to defend the divinity of Jesus, so he argued that Mary could not be the mother of God. She must be merely the mother of the human part of Christ. Because no woman could give birth to God, which does make sense, but is still wrong.

Mary is indeed the Mother of God. God and man are eternally and inseparably united as one in the person of Jesus. God has a mother. But if the One who inhabits His mother’s womb for nine months is truly God, our cultures misguided opinion that a woman should be able to freely choose to kill her unborn child is sinful and seems too obvious to have to say, but it is wrong.

If Mary is the Mother of God, then children are truly a blessing from God, to be received without reservation. If what Mary has borne in her body is truly God, then God is truly human, and humanity’s only hope for salvation is the offspring of this woman. If the man she bears is truly God, then mankind has hope. If she gives the eternal Second Person of the Trinity human flesh, then all who are born of human flesh have a Savior.

But still, almost no one wants this woman to be the Mother of God. Some people shy away from calling Mary the Mother of God because to call Mary the Mother of God is to say that your flesh—with its desires to be its own god, to reject the name of God, to refuse the Sabbath rest, to dishonor and disobey your parents and other authorities, to harm your neighbor’s life and body, marriage, property, and reputation, and to be discontent with what your heavenly Father gives—is not simply weakness. The reason you can’t change is it’s who you are, and so we must look for hope and salvation outside ourselves.

But in Mary’s womb and forever more, God and man are one. God has been a zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, baby, toddler, boy, adolescent, teenager, young man, and a man. If you are or have been any of those, then your hope can only be found in Him.

Behold the man! He calls her “woman,” but the One who hangs dying on the cross is not just her Son; He is also her Savior and our Savior. You see, He came to save sinners like you and me. This is Mary’s Son, who was appointed for the rising and falling of many in Israel, who is the salvation of Israel and Gentiles alike. Behold the man, the promised Seed of the woman sent to crush the head of the serpent who, with his deception, has enslaved all mankind. Behold the man who redeems your life form the pit.

And so, you, beloved of God, behold your mother, the Bride of Christ; His Church. From her womb, which is the font, you have been born again through water and the Spirit. Behold your mother, in whose care you freely receive forgiveness for your sin. In whose care you are fed by the One who provides for all of our needs and all that we have.

Mary is truly the Mother of God. And God is truly the Savior of sinners. He Himself is the promised One, your Redeemer, the incarnate God conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, who alone was worthy to offer Himself on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. Behold your Savior. Behold your salvation. Behold your God and brother, Jesus the promised One who lived and died in your place and was raised to life that you might have life and have it to the fullest.

In His name, Amen.