Mary’s Role in God’s Purpose
DURING Jesus’ ministry, a woman raised her voice above the din of the crowd and called out: “Happy is the womb that carried you and the breasts that you sucked!” If Jesus wanted his mother to be revered, he had here a golden opportunity to recommend that form of devotion. Instead, he replied: “No, rather, Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”
Jesus did not single out his mother for any special honors; nor did he ever tell his followers to do so. How does this fit in with the adoration that many sincere believers bestow on Mary? Let us consider some of the widespread teachings about Jesus’ mother in the light of the Holy Scriptures.
“Full of Grace,” “Blessed . . . Among Women”
The angel Gabriel announced to Mary what her role in God’s purpose would be. On that occasion, he greeted her, saying: “Good day, highly favored one, Jehovah is with you.” (Luke 1:28) An alternative translation of that same greeting is: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Soon thereafter, Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42) Do these phrases not indicate that particular reverence is due Mary?
In reality, no. Although these words are incorporated in a prayer that Catholics direct to Mary, the Bible itself gives no justification for praying to her. Gabriel and Elizabeth acknowledged Mary’s outstanding privilege as the one who was to bear the Messiah, but the thought of praying to her is alien to the Scriptures. On the contrary, when Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, he indicated that prayers were to be directed to his Father. In fact, Jesus’ famous model prayer begins with the words: “Our Father in the heavens.”
Among the Rulers
Another common teaching about Mary is that she is now “the Queen of heaven.” The Bible never accords her such a title. It does show, however, that she occupies a special place in God’s heavenly arrangement. What place is that?
Jesus indicated that some of his faithful disciples would rule with him in his Kingdom. (Luke 22:28-30) Jesus will empower those chosen ones to serve as “priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” (Revelation 5:10) The Bible clearly leads us to the conclusion that Mary is among those who have been granted this exalted privilege. How can we say this?
You will recall that after Jesus’ death, Mary was “persisting in prayer” with Jesus’ disciples and his brothers. Some 120 met for this purpose, including “some women.” (Acts 1:12-15) While “the festival of Pentecost was in progress,” says the Bible, “they were all together at the same place” when God’s holy spirit was poured out upon them, granting them the ability to speak in foreign languages.
That Mary was among those blessed in this way shows that she and the other women who received the holy spirit were chosen to be a part of Jesus’ heavenly Kingdom. So we have every reason to believe that Mary now sits with Jesus in heavenly glory. (Romans 8:14-17) Consider some of the privileges that she and Jesus’ other corulers will have in the outworking of God’s purposes.
Dispensing Marvelous Blessings
The Bible book of Revelation says that 144,000 individuals would be resurrected to heavenly glory to serve alongside Jesus as priests, judges, and kings. (Revelation 14:1, 4; 20:4, 6) As priests, they will share in applying the merits of Jesus’ sacrifice to all obedient mankind, raising them to spiritual, moral, and physical perfection. (Revelation 21:1-4) What a privilege it will be for all loyal worshippers of Jehovah to see that wonderful time!*
Mary played, and still plays, a part in the outworking of Jehovah’s purposes. For her humility, faith, obedience, and devotion as a mother, not to mention her endurance under trial, she is worthy of imitation. For her role in giving birth to the Messiah and in dispensing everlasting blessings to mankind, she is to be highly respected.
However, the most important lesson we learn from Mary is that she, along with all other faithful servants of God, worships Jehovah and no other god. Mary, along with Christ’s other corulers in heaven, raises her voice to proclaim: “To the One sitting on the throne [Jehovah God] and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ] be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.”
For more information concerning these blessings, see chapter 8 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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Mary’s humility, faith, and obedience are worthy of imitation