Skip to comments.Knowing Mary Through the Bible: Mary's Last Words
Posted on 12/07/2007 1:41:57 PM PST by NYer
Mary and Mount Sinai
First, Mary’s words recall the typical response for covenant obedience in the Old Testament. For example, the theme of doing whatever God tells you appeared three times when Israel established its covenant with Yahweh at Mount Sinai. When Moses first announced to the Israelites their mission and the duties of being God’s chosen people, the whole congregation responded, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8). And when God established this covenant with Israel in a ritual ceremony at Sinai, Moses solemnly announced the words of the Lord to the people, and the congregation twice responded, "All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 24:3, 7).
Similar words were repeated later in Israel’s history when they renewed their covenant as they settled in the Promised Land (Josh. 24:24) and when they began to rebuild Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon (Neh. 5:12). Thus, at the pivotal moments in Israel’s history — the covenant at Sinai, entering the Promised Land, the restoration of Jerusalem — doing whatever God says is paramount and is closely associated with covenant obedience.
This sheds light on Mary’s words at the wedding feast of Cana. At the dawn of the messianic era, a new turning point in Israel’s history has arrived. As the Messiah is about to perform His first miracle and thereby launch His public ministry, we once again encounter the theme of doing whatever God says. Mary tells the servants, "Do whatever he tells you," and with these words she echoes Israel’s profession of faith at Sinai. Mary "personifies in a certain manner the people of Israel in the context of the covenant" and stands as a faithful representative of Israel.1
Joseph and Jesus
Second, Mary’s words find a close parallel with what Pharaoh said about Joseph in the Book of Genesis. During the severe famine in Egypt, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of storing up the wheat harvest in the plentiful years before the famine and distributing it once the food crisis arrived. When the starving people cried for provisions, Pharaoh told them, "Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do" (Gen. 41:55) — an expression almost identical to what Mary would later say at Cana.
This Biblical connection between doing whatever Joseph says and doing whatever Jesus says is quite significant, for there are several parallels between Joseph and Jesus in these two scenes. Just as Joseph overcame a lack of food during the famine with his storehouses of grain, so Jesus overcomes a lack of wine at the wedding by changing a large volume of water into wine. Just as Joseph is presented as having the Spirit of God in him at the beginning of his work (Gen. 41:38), so Jesus is described as having the Spirit upon Him at the start of His ministry (Jn. 1:32). Just as Joseph was 30 years old when he began to store up the grain for the people (Gen. 41:46), so Jesus is 30 years old when He provides the wine for people at the wedding feast (see Lk. 3:23). And just as Pharaoh’s words about Joseph — "what he says to you, do" — came when Joseph enters into his reign, so Mary’s words — "do whatever he tells you" — come when Jesus begins His public ministry with the first miracle in His kingly mission.
The Third Passover
John Paul II said these first two Passover miracles — involving wine at Cana and bread in the wilderness — anticipate the greatest miracle which would take place on the third Passover: the changing of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Mary’s words also contain Eucharistic significance. This can be seen when we consider how John’s Gospel is structured around three Passover feasts that span the course of three years.
Each of the three Passovers in John’s Gospel occasions a miracle involving bread or wine or both. The first Passover comes near the time of the wedding feast at Cana (see Jn. 2:13 and preceding verses), when Jesus changes water into wine in a time of need. The second Passover brings a second miracle in which Jesus provides an abundance in a time of need: the multiplication of loaves to feed the 5,000 (Jn. 6:4). In his general audience on March 5, 1997, John Paul II said these first two Passover miracles — involving wine at Cana and bread in the wilderness — anticipate the greatest miracle which would take place on the third Passover: the changing of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Jesus performed this miracle near the time of the Jewish feast of Passover (cf. Jn. 2:13), as he did in multiplying the loaves (cf. Jn. 6:4). He thus showed his intention to prepare the true paschal banquet, the Eucharist. His desire at the wedding in Cana seems to be emphasized further by the presence of wine, which alludes to the blood of the New Covenant, and by the context of a banquet. In this way . . . Mary obtained the miracle of the new wine which prefigures the Eucharist, the supreme sign of the presence of her risen Son among the disciples.
In the wider context of John’s Gospel, therefore, Mary’s command at Cana may have Eucharistic undertones, for the "good wine" that Mary leads the servants to is itself a foreshadowing of the supernatural wine of the Eucharist.
Trust Without Hesitation
Now let’s consider how Mary’s command "Do whatever he tells you" has profound effects on the servants, inspiring them to trust Jesus in a radical way. Just put yourself in the servants’ shoes. Jesus tells them to take the six stone jars for the Jewish rites of purification, fill them up with water, and draw some out to present to the steward of the feast. These stone jars would have been used for ritual washings of hands (and possibly feet). Astonishingly, Jesus tells the servants to fill up these very jars with water and then present their contents to their boss for serving as drink for the guests.
This would take a lot of faith! Imagine what the servants are thinking: "Fill up these jars? With water? And serve it to the guests? How is this going to solve the problem?" From a human perspective, Jesus’ plan does not make any sense. Yet first and foremost, Jesus is asking the servants not to understand His plan, but to trust Him.
Similarly, we may not always grasp Jesus’ work in our lives. We may not see clearly where the Lord is leading us. Yet, as John Paul II reminded us in his general audience on February 26, 1997, Mary’s command "Do whatever he tells you" challenges us to trust Him without hesitation not only when it makes sense to us, but "especially when one does not understand the meaning or benefit of what Christ asks."
Mary Inspires Prompt Obedience
With this background, we can see how Mary’s words "Do whatever he tells you" inspire the servants to tremendous faith. John’s Gospel, in fact, highlights how the servants respond as faithful disciples, promptly following Christ’s commands, no matter how mysterious those commands might appear to be.
Jesus gives two orders to the servants. First, He tells them, "Fill the jars with water." John’s Gospel immediately points out that the servants not only obeyed Christ’s command, but did so perfectly: "And they filled them up to the brim" (Jn. 2:7). Second, Jesus tells them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast," and John’s Gospel notes "they took it" (Jn. 2:8). Notice how John’s Gospel goes out of its way to tell us that the servants did exactly as they were told.
|"Fill the jars"||"They filled them" (Jn. 2:7)|
|"Take it to the steward"||"They took it" (Jn. 2:8)2|
Clearly, these servants followed Mary’s exhortation, "Do whatever he tells you." As such, they are portrayed as faithful disciples, obedient to Christ’s words.3
The Return of the Bridegroom
In the future era when God would rescue Israel from its enemies, there would be a great feast of wine (Is. 25:6) with wine overflowing in abundance (Amos 9:13-14; Joel 2:24; 3:18). In light of this background, the large quantity of wine at the feast in Cana would signal that the Old Testament prophecies about the messianic era are coming to fulfillment.
Finally, Mary’s words "Do whatever he tells you" spoken in the context of a wine miracle and a wedding feast help reveal Jesus as the messianic Bridegroom coming to renew His marriage covenant with His bride, Israel.
Consider the rich symbolism of wine for the ancient Jews. First, the prophets used wine imagery to foretell the restoration of Israel and the coming of the Messiah. In the future era when God would rescue Israel from its enemies, there would be a great feast of wine (Is. 25:6) with wine overflowing in abundance (Amos 9:13-14; Joel 2:24; 3:18). In light of this background, the large quantity of wine at the feast in Cana would signal that the Old Testament prophecies about the messianic era are coming to fulfillment.
Second, wine also had marital symbolism, as it celebrated the joyful union of bride and groom in the Song of Solomon (Song 1:2, 4; 4:10; 5:1; 7:9; 8:2). Thus the centrality of wine in the context of a wedding feast at Cana would bring to mind the love between husband and wife.4
This has important implications, for in the Old Testament, God’s covenant with Israel was described as a marriage relationship. Yahweh was the divine Bridegroom, who married His bride, Israel, in the covenant at Sinai. When Israel was obedient to the covenant, she was described as a faithful spouse. But later, when Israel broke covenant with Yahweh and began worshipping other gods, she was seen as an unfaithful wife, an adulterer, or even a harlot (see Jer. 2:1-2; 3:1-12; Ezek. 16; Hos. 2).
Nevertheless, the prophet Hosea announced that Yahweh would remain faithful to Israel even though she was unfaithful to Him. In fact, God one day would woo Israel’s heart back to Him and renew their relationship in a marriage covenant that would endure forever (Hos. 2:19-20).
In the first century, Jews were longing for their Messiah to come and for their divine bridegroom to heal and restore their covenant of love just as Hosea had foretold. That Jesus chose to have His first miracle provide an abundance of wine in the context of a wedding feast is intentional. It signals that the messianic Bridegroom has finally arrived to usher in the great feast and reunite Himself to His bride, the fallen people of Israel.
Mary and the Bride’s Heart
Mary’s words reflect the heart of a bride in love with her bridegroom. Representing the faithful of Israel, Mary invites the servants, the disciples, and all of us to run after our Bridegroom’s desires, ardently seeking to fulfill whatever He wants of us.
John’s Gospel goes out of its way to highlight this marriage symbolism, using the word "marriage" itself twice in the opening three verses of this story (Jn. 2:1-3). With this emphasis on the marriage, one would expect to read about the bride and groom. But strikingly, the narrative tells us nothing at all about the newlyweds themselves. Instead, the two main characters in the focus of this story are Mary and Jesus.
This is why some have suggested that Mary and Jesus serve as the symbolic bride and groom, heralding the restoration of the marriage covenant between Israel and Yahweh as Hosea once foretold. With Jesus, this is clear. Jesus is identified in the Gospel of John as the messianic Bridegroom (Jn. 3:29) and He is the main actor at the wedding at Cana, providing the messianic wine in the context of a marriage feast.
We already have seen how Mary represents Israel in this account, echoing Israel’s loving response to Yahweh when the covenant was first established at Mount Sinai. By saying "Do whatever he tells you," Mary recalls Israel’s original words of spousal covenant fidelity — vows that had been severely broken through centuries of sin and idolatry, but ones that are now being restored as the messianic Bridegroom begins His public ministry with His first miracle.
In this light, "Do whatever he tells you" should not be seen as a legalistic call to tediously obey an all-powerful master. Rather, Mary’s words reflect the heart of a bride in love with her bridegroom. Representing the faithful of Israel, Mary invites the servants, the disciples, and all of us to run after our Bridegroom’s desires, ardently seeking to fulfill whatever He wants of us.
Eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Ping!
Excellent. Thank you for the post! Happy Friday!
I loved everything except the bride and groom part.
Mary does NOT represent Israel. That’s a fig newton of somebody’s imagination. The bride of Christ is His church - which is comprised of saved Jews and the gentiles He has grafted into the new Israel.
What nonsense...And people just lap this up...
Mary didn't invite anyone to do any thing...This author is having another bad dream...
Mary put ALL of the focus on Jesus Christ, the Savior whose time had not come yet...
This church is constantly trying to make Mary, the Mother of the King, the wife of the King as the heathen religions do that pre-dated Christianity that God warned against thru out the scriptures...
The Queen of heaven is not something Christians want to be involved with...
Huh? You make absolutely no sense. First, you say Mary does NOT represent Israel. Then, you say the bride of Christ is His church comprised of saved Jews, etc. Tell me, you would classify Mary as a 'saved Jew,' wouldn't you?
If so, then obviously she is part of the Church -which you correctly note is the bride of Christ- and, thus, obviously part of the new Israel. Hence, it's perfectly legitimate to view her words and actions as representative of Israel.
Sheesh, follow your own logic at least!
Uh, hello? Mary is Jesus' mother. Jesus is the king. Ergo, Mary is the mother of the king. And it was God who pretty much made her so. Not the Catholic Church. We just recognize simple logic.
Ever notice how just mentioning Jesus’ mom seems to drive some people buggy?
For all those who have wondered why Yah'shua changed water into wine
when He could have just gone poof; the answer lies in NUMBERS 19.
The water that Yah'shua changed was not the water we think of,
it was not drinking water. It was the water of purification as detailed in NUMBERS 19.
The water of purification was used to remove sin under the old covenant.
By the act of changing the water of purification into wine, Yah'shua
ended the OT means of removing sin.
This is the beginning of the New covenant as outlined inf JEREMIAH 31:31
Yah'shua by this miracle pointed to His power to remove sin.
Yah'shua demonstrated that He was greater than the ashes of the Red Heifer.
Later He would become the Pesach Lamb,
removing sin forever to all who would look to Him for salvation.
**”Do whatever he tells you” (Jn. 2:5) **
Agreed - if she is saved, she is PART of the church. She is not, by herself, the bride of Christ. You make so sense - being a part of a thing does not make you the thing.
You are not following their scenario...Mary is the daughter of God...Mary is the Mother of God...Mary is the wife (bride) of God...Mary has her own throne...
No where in the article does it say she is the bride of Christ. Rather, it says she symbolizes the bride of Christ -the Church. Being a part of a thing -you are right- does not make you the thing. But, again, no one said she was 'the thing.' Rather, she symbolizes the thing in, say, the same way the Statue of Liberty represents the United States of America or Rosa Parks symbolizes the civil rights movement.
And this makes perfect sense.
Mary was merely the mother of the male child who was God. She is NOT the mother of God - God is “I AM” and has no parents. When Jesus came to Earth, He humbled Himself and took on the form a servant. Mary is a child of God if she is saved (which is reasonable to presume), same as all other Christians. No Saint (which is what the Bible calls Christians) have a throne in heaven. None other than the Lord has a throne.
It’s the Bible, not any man called priest or pope by other men.
Well, actually it's not. Its your faulty reading of the Bible.
You said: "Mary was merely the mother of the male child who was God. She is NOT the mother of God -"
The Bible says:
Lu 1:43 "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?"
Tell me, do you agree with Elizabeth that Mary is the mother of your Lord?
You also said: "No Saint (which is what the Bible calls Christians) have a throne in heaven. None other than the Lord has a throne."
The Bible says:
Matthew 19:28-29 "And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life."
Care to make up any more theology?
It’s easy - and pointless - to nit-pick nonessentials. The essential bit of theology is the Jesus is the Christ and no man seeks after God but those whom He calls. No works by a man not saved have any merit before Holy God and no man stands between a child of God (that means one who believes on the Lord Jesus) and God. Earthly “priests” are not true priests. Mary is not a lord nor is she an intermediator between man and God.
Luke 1:43 testifies that Mary was the human birth mother of the man who was God - she is NOT the mother of God. He is self existent.
Don’t recon I had Matt 19:28-29 in mind when I said what I said. But thrones in Heaven are not the norm - that position is reserved by God for a few. Mary is not pictured in Scripture as being on a throne - same as she is not “taken up” to heaven without having died in the flesh nor was she without sin, nor was she the product of a virgin birth. There are many who worship Mary, who elevate her to a position that no mortal can hold. That is heresy and that is the danger.
Actually, every Catholic who knows his faith would agree with this statement.
"she is NOT the mother of God."
Of course, millions of orthodox Christians over a millenium and a half would disagree. Of course God the Son, Second Person of the Trinity, is self-existent and pre-existed the creation of Mary. However, past attempts such as yours to seperate the Man, Jesus from the God, Jesus gave rise to all sorts of nasty heresies which orthodox Christians even today still reject, hence the title Mother of God. As a very wise person once stated, "You cannot know who He is, until you know who She is." Otherwise, the temptation is great to seperate the two natures of Jesus -God and Man- that are joined in One Person.
But I noticed you ignored my question. Do you agree with the Bible that Mary is the mother of your Lord? A simple yes or no will suffice.
But thrones in Heaven are not the norm - that position is reserved by God for a few.
Again, you seem a little weak on your Scripture.
Rev. 3:20,21 `Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 `He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."
Put quite simply, we all get to sit not just on a throne, but on Jesus' throne as members of the Body of Christ. Through Holy Eucharist, we come into communion with Him and become part of Him. And you're right, this free gift is totally unmerited on our part.
"nor was she the product of a virgin birth. There are many who worship Mary, who elevate her to a position that no mortal can hold."
I know of no one or no faith that a) holds that Mary was the product of a virgin birth or b) worships her. You may want to consider the possiblity that perhaps your understanding of other faiths is a tad weaker even than your familiarity with scripture.
Yes, she is -- as defined in Scripture!
So are you saying that you do not believe Holy Scriptures:
13 [36-37] The sign given to Mary in confirmation of the angel's announcement to her is the pregnancy of her aged relative Elizabeth. If a woman past the childbearing age could become pregnant, why, the angel implies, should there be doubt about Mary's pregnancy, for nothing will be impossible for God.
14  Even before his birth, Jesus is identified in Luke as the Lord.
15  Blessed are you who believed: Luke portrays Mary as a believer whose faith stands in contrast to the disbelief of Zechariah (Luke 1:20). Mary's role as believer in the infancy narrative should be seen in connection with the explicit mention of her presence among "those who believed" after the resurrection at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:14).
16 [46-55] Although Mary is praised for being the mother of the Lord and because of her belief, she reacts as the servant in a psalm of praise, the Magnificat. Because there is no specific connection of the canticle to the context of Mary's pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat (with the possible exception of v 48) may have been a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if not composed by Luke, it fits in well with themes found elsewhere in Luke: joy and exultation in the Lord; the lowly being singled out for God's favor; the reversal of human fortunes; the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.
Your footnotes are not the Words of God. Nothing in His Words proclaim Mary as His mother. God does not have a mother - He is the great “I AM” -meaning He is self existent. Mary gave birth to the man Jesus - the only begotten of God, which means Jesus had no earthly biological father. Jesus was on Earth as a man who was God. 100% of each - not 50% of each. He was the Son of God from before time (read Colossians chapter 1).
Mary gave birth to the man Jesus. Jesus existed before He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He humbled Himself and took on flesh (read Philippians chapter 2).
To say that Mary is the mother of God puts God’s existence in the hands of flesh - this is heresy. She was the mother of Jesus - the man, who has always been Jesus - the Lord of Heaven. She ain’t the mother of God.
Do me a favor. Read that back a few times and think about the word "merely".
Mary is a child of God if she is saved (which is reasonable to presume)
Reasonable? This is what the Church, in fact, teaches.
No Saint (which is what the Bible calls Christians) have a throne in heaven.
Bill Clinton is a Christian. That means he's a saint? I don't understand your point here.
As for "thrones" for the saints, there's also no evidence that there are Bibles in heaven, so...
None other than the Lord has a throne.
Where does it say that? Are you quoting Scripture or employing Protestant tradition?
Its the Bible, not any man called priest or pope by other men.
Ironically, the Bible has a lot to say about bishops and priests, and absolutely nothing to say about the "Bible".
Is Jesus God or isn't he? What does "was on Earth as a man who was God" mean?
Jesus is not a man anymore? Jesus isn't God anymore?
So you're saying Jesus isn't God? Because if Mary is the Mother of Jesus, then she must be the Mother of God. I suppose you accept the incarnation as a mystery, but will not accept the mystery of Mary's motherhood of God? Why?
Mary gave birth to the man Jesus - the only begotten of God
The "man Jesus" is not the only begotten of God. The Son - the Word of God - is begotten of God. Jesus is the Word made flesh, begotten of the Virgin Mary and her spouse, the Holy Spirit. But here's where it gets tricky: Jesus is BOTH the only begotten of God - as the Divine Word - AND the offpspring of Mary. Since Jesus IS God, then Mary IS the Mother of God. It's a mystery. Just like God taking on the flesh. How did He do it and remain at His eternal throne? We don't know. It defies logic and science, but it happened. How is Mary the Mother of the Eternal God, if she herself is a mortal? It's a mystery, but she is.
Nowhere does Scripture instruct man to separate Jesus' human and Divine natures, for any purpose whatsoever. The Church, however, believed from the outset that Mary was not some ordinary soul outside of her being created. Since God Himself tells us that "all nations will call [her] blessed," who are you to complain?
correction: “all generations will call me blessed,” not “nations”.
As God, Jesus has no earthly parents. He was and is the second person of the God head, ever existent. Born in the flesh as a man. That human form was given birth by Mary - not the Lord Jesus. He - Jesus - was before Moses ever drew breath.
You’re confusing Jesus’s two natures. He is both human and divine. His divine nature had no parents, since it is eternal. His human nature did not exist until the Incarnation, and this nature has earthly parents - a biological parent (Mary) and a foster parent (St. Joseph).
"human form ... not the Lord Jesus" ??
Are you a Docetist?
The footnotes are explanatory.
Did you even read the Scripture?
What Church do you attend to have been fed ideas like this?
Don’t you know he changed the water into juice?
I’m just glad to see a controversy over the Theotokos ignite. NOW it feels like Christmas, even though it’s 80 degrees and muggy as all get out.
"Do you agree with the Bible that Mary is the Mother of YOUR Lord?"
In some congregations, Yes
Mary is the mother of the flesh Christ put on. As Creator, Jesus does not have any earthly parents. The Roman Catholic doctrine is quite naive and wrong is declaring Mary is the mother of God. He is self existent and has no parents.
No, I am not a Docetist - Jesus Christ humbled Himself and put on flesh, which was born by Mary. He was 100% man and 100% God. As man, he was born of flesh by Mary. As God, He has always existed. God has no mother.
I read the Bible regularly. I belong to a Southern Baptist church, but do not bow to SBC doctrine or practice if it departs from Scripture.
I know of nobody outside the Roman Catholic church that insists that Mary is the mother of God. Every Christian I know, outside of the RCC, knows Mary was the mother of Jesus - who came to Earth as a human, born of the flesh - in the flesh. He was God - NOT born of the flesh, being self existent and always existent.
We have told you again and again:
Mary is the Mother of God, both in human form and in godly form.
She is the Mother of the Son of God and the Son of Man.
Also the Mother of the Son of David as referenced many times for the Jews by Matthew in his Gospel.
I don’t really think you let that Bible sink in too much.
Unless your Bible has changed the original translation from St. Jerome.
**the flesh Christ put on.**
Very strange words in my opinion.
Mary conceived Christ through the power of the “Holy Spirit”, the third person of the Blessed Trinity.
It is sounding like you don’t believe in the Holy Trinity:
God the Father
God the Son
God the Holy Spirit
All separate entities, yet forming one Trinity in union with one another.
I could understand
KNOWING JESUS THROUGH THE BIBLE
The whole Book is about HIM.
The more accurate title for Mary would be:
KNOWING MARY THROUGH A POST CARD
. . . all written of her in The Bible would fit on a post card.
Magicsterical trump-ups hardly count, in my construction on reality.
Scripture and Holy Spirit count.
KNOWING MARY THROUGH A POST CARD
is a much more honest title.
Yet, I have no doubt you still credit yourself as being a 'bible-believing' Christian. Fascinating.
Certainly Mary was the earthly mother of Christ in His earthly form.
I still avoid calling Mary The MOTHER of God.
That is inappropriate, to me.
There’s an insinuation of Mary being over God in some nebulous sense that I simply cannot tolerate at all.
Wow, you want to be very careful with statements like this. Jesus was not God in a mansuit. And we are far more than flesh.
In a sense . . . it’s like saying . . .
Mary was the taxi ride Christ took to His humanness.
You still avoided the question. Can you, personally, say, “Mary is the mother of my Lord?”
Jesus was not God in a mansuit.
= = =
Seems as apt as any human description can be.