As we approach Christmas, it is fitting to discuss the significance of Mary, Jesus’ mother, for the Christian faith. Some evangelicals don’t know what to do with her. They know that they shouldn’t pray to her. Beyond that, though, they don’t know much.
Mary was an essential part of God’s plan of cosmic redemption. Without her, we wouldn’t have Jesus. And without Jesus, we wouldn’t have salvation. Further, Mary’s relationship with Jesus was unique. The savior of the world came from her womb and nursed at her breasts (Luke 11:27).
Scripture speaks very highly of Mary. She was prophesied in the OT (Isa 7:14) and is referred to as “the favored one” in the NT (Luke 1:27). “All generations will call her blessed” (Luke 1:48), Scripture says. Christian tradition lauds her with great praise, too. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, early Christians correctly deemed her the “Mother of God.” Mary “gave birth in the flesh to God united with the flesh” (Cyril of Alexandria, “Second Letter”). She did not just birth a man but the God-man.
How should we interpret Mary, then? Theologically, we recognize her as the “Mother of God.” Ethically, we model her obedience: “I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Culturally, we remember that sometimes the most loving act a woman can do for the world is to bear and rear children. That’s what Mary did. We reap eternal benefits from her faithfulness to that task.