Skip to comments.Why Did Mary Offer a Sin Offering? [Ecumenical]
Posted on 07/19/2009 2:17:43 PM PDT by NYer
Q. Mary, like every other Jew of her time, was born under law. In other words, under the old covenant, she had to obey the 10 Commandments and all the ceremonial laws given by God through Moses. For example, we see her observing the pregnancy and childbirth laws here:
(Luke 2:22-24) When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord She must also bring to the priest a lamb for a burnt offering and a dove for a sin offering. The priest will then offer them to the Lord to make atonement for her.
A. The above quotation of Luke is inaccurate Here is what the NIV actually says:
When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.
Q. Now, if Mary was always pure and sinless, why did she go through the purification period? Why did she offer a sacrifice for sin to the priest? Why would the priest need to make atonement for her to cleanse her?
Leviticus 12:1-8 The LORD said to Moses, A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period… . 8 If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering
A. These are very good and very legitimate questions. Of course, being ceremonially unclean is not equivalent to being sinful. The laws here are going to apply to everyone. They would not have written these laws with one immaculate virgin in mind. But scripture does seem to indicate in Luke, that Mary offered a sin offering.
Good point about Mary’s sin offering. But the Catholic reply would be that she offered the sin offering out of humility and to avoid scandal and to fulfill all righteousness, (Mt. 3) just as her Divine Son was baptized in the Jordan by John. Johns baptism was for repentance and yet we both agree Jesus did not need to be baptized b/c He did not need to repent of any sin. And yet He submitted to baptism. And Mary offered the sin offering according to the Law. Both fulfilled all righteousness in humility.
Q. As we have seen, Mary was born under law and she observed the Law of Moses with regard to pregnancy and childbirth. But the Bible says that no one can become righteous in Gods sight by observing the law. In fact, the purpose of the law is to increase sin in man and show man his utter sinfulness, hopelessness and, hence, need for Gods grace.
If Mary was born without sin and never sinned, it would mean that she perfectly obeyed the entire Law of Moses (the 10 Commandments and more than 360 ceremonial laws) in thought, word and deed, all of the time, and thus, achieved righteousness by the law!
A. No, she did not achieve righteousness by the law. She was righteous from her conception by the power of God. And yes, she kept the entire law.
Q. So, Mary did not need the righteousness from God, apart from the law that comes through faith in Jesus Christ? In other words, she did not need Jesus to die for her sins because she had none she was not a sinner!
A. She certainly did need Jesus to save her. True, she was not a sinner but she certainly DID have faith in Jesus Christ her Divine Son. She was the first believer. She was saved by Jesus from sin BEFORE she sinned by a unique grace of God Almighty. Surely God could do this if He wanted to do it. Just as Jesus death saves all people, even those who lived and died before His incarnation, so His salvation through His death and resurrection was applied to Mary before it actually happened in time.
Q. Matthew 11:11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Even the most insignificant Christian is greater than the most prominent Old Testament prophet! To be made righteous by the blood of Christ, to be born again as a child of God, and to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, is far better than being a mighty Old Testament prophet who is not walking in the New Covenant.
A. And Our Blessed Mother would most definitely fall into this category. So, she too, as a Christian and in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist.
Q. Jesus said that among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.
A. This must be referring to OT people. Because Jesus also was born of woman and yet we both agree He is the greatest of all.
Q. So, if anyone is to be put on a pedestal, why have the Catholics chosen Mary instead of the greater John the Baptist?
A. Because she is the mother of Our Lord and unlike Eve, she was perfectly obedient to God.
Q. I mean no disrespect to Mary or John the Baptist. But Christians should merely give them the same honour and respect they give to any Christian. Only Jesus is to be exalted above all!
A. Jesus is exalted above all. We worship Him. We honor Mary for who she is we do not worship her.
Q. Jesus response when someone called Mary blessed: Luke 11:27,28 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.
He replied, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
The woman in the crowd was impressed with Jesus teaching, but, she gave the glory to Mary. Jesus response did two things. It shifted the focus from one personMaryto ANYONE who hears the Word of God and obeys it. This, in turn, puts Mary on equal footing with anyone who hears the Word of God and obeys it.
A. True. And, of course, Mary also heard the word of God and obeyed it. All who do this are blessed just as Jesus said. This is true. I would submit that Jesus response did redirect the womans focus from honoring His mother to the necessity that this woman attend to her own salvation. But, it in no way indicates that Mary is thus equal in every way to any Christian who hears and obeys Jesus regardless of the perfection of their obedience. But she would be equal to any Christian who believed and obeyed perfectly.
In closing , I would like to say that you have submitted some very good and thoughtful questions. I have also submitted to you a different way to understand the same scriptures. I hope you can see that it is possible to interpret the same scriptures differently. This is the very reason there are over 40,000 different Protestant denominations.
The basic difference between Protestant interpretation of scripture and Catholic is that for us the Faith existed before the NT scriptures were written down. So the NT is a product of the Catholic Faith and is not contrary to any of our beliefs and doctrines.
For instance, no one in the Catholic Church sat down and read the Angelic salutation in Luke 1–”Hail Full of Grace..” thought it over and said, “I know, this must mean that Mary was sinless, immaculate from the first instance of her conception!”
If the Catholic Church had done that Protestant derision would be deserved. But no, that is not why we cite this verse. The Catholic Church has always believed in the immaculate conception of Mary. This was never seriously questioned until some time after the Protestant Reformation. (Even Luther believed in her immaculate conception.)We cite this verse in response to Protestant demands for scripture. And because we know that Protestants will only consider scripture Catholics give the scriptural evidence we have for our beliefs. Protestants will then often scoff because they think we derived our doctrine and dogma from what seems to them insubstantial scriptural evidence. But as I said above, our doctrines do not come out of scripture in the same way Protestants derive their doctrine. Our doctrine comes directly from the teaching of Jesus to the apostles to us.
On the other hand, Protestants, 1500 years later, read scriptures and then decide what is to be believed based on their own private interpretation.
By the way this is proscribed in
2 Peter 1:20 Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation.
The reason I am Catholic is that for many scriptures there are more than one way to interpret them. I have decided that the oldest Church, the one that can trace her origin back to the apostles, founded by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, is the one church most likely to KNOW how the scriptures should be interpreted.
Protestant individuals, 1500 2000 years removed from the events in the NT, are pretty much on their own. Their hope is that the Holy Spirit will lead them into all truth but this has not been the case since the differences in Protestant interpretation has spawned thousands of different denominations in direct opposition to Jesus desire that we all be ONE.
thanks for the post.
This thread began an ongoing discussion between the author, BHU and a non-Catholic. It’s worth visiting the discussion at the above link.
Nothing in Scripture indicates Mary is without sin. The notion is a rationalization by people uncomfortable with the notion that a sinless Christ could issue forth from a sinful mother.
If Christ’s sinlessness necessitates Mary be sinless, then her mother need be sinless - and all the way back, reducto ad absurdum.
“Now, if Mary was always pure and sinless, why did she go through the purification period?”
This is a hypothetical which can be easily answered: Mary was not always pure and sinless. In fact, she was not sinless at all. Like everyone except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, she was born in sin.
How so? Jesus Christ was born into a family that includes sinners, like us. The vessel in which He chose to enter this world, however, was without sin.
Protestant individuals, myself among them, see ourselves as a continuation of the true church from NT times onwards, and Roman Catholics as the aberration.
I do not however hate the RCs, and have enjoyed many good friendships with RCs. Particularly in the pro-life movement, I have gotten to know quite a few.
It is inappropriate, I think, on threads discussing Catholic doctrine like this one, that when someone like me posts their reasons for disagreeing with Catholic doctrine, we are often insulted.
After all, I didn’t bring it up.
A thread yesterday was a good example. I posted in response to someone waiting for “those who hate Mary” to show up. I told them Protestants do not hate Mary, we just don’t think she should be worshiped. Some responded by talking about how they aren’t really worshiping her (I respectfully disagree) - but others just insulted me in perjorative terms.
Hope this thread doesn’t go the same way. But just as I wanted to point out the Protestants don’t hate Mary, we just don’t agree that she has attributes belonging only to God (sinlessness, omniscience...) on this thread I’d like to make the point that Protestants don’t see ourselves as a “new” sect, but as a continuation of the true church.
**Now, if Mary was always pure and sinless, why did she go through the purification period? **
Because she was of Jewish ancestry and followed the laws of Judaism.
If Christs sinlessness necessitates Mary be sinless, then her mother need be sinless - and all the way back, reducto ad absurdum.
Nothing in Scripture indicates the teachings of Christ solely appear in Scripture. The notion is a rationalization by people uncomfortable with the notion that an oral tradition could issue forth from Christ, through the Apostles, to the modern day.
If Scripture necessitates a Scriptural basis, then that basis must itself be in Scripture - and all the way back, reducto ad absurdum.
"Hail Mary, full of grace,"
Now, how can she be full of grace if she had sinned?
Again a simple answer -- right there in Holy Scripture!
I'm curious how you view Angels? Serious question.
For your continued information.
It would be helpful for all to know to which "aberration", you are referring. Thank you for the additional information.
I posted in response to someone waiting for those who hate Mary to show up. I told them Protestants do not hate Mary, we just dont think she should be worshiped. Some responded by talking about how they arent really worshiping her (I respectfully disagree) - but others just insulted me in perjorative terms.
The word "worship" has undergone a change in meaning in English. It comes from the Old English weorthscipe, which means the condition of being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity. To worship in the older, larger sense is to ascribe honor, worth, or excellence to someone, whether a sage, a magistrate, or God. In Scripture, the term "worship" was similarly broad in meaning, but in the early Christian centuries, theologians began to differentiate between different types of honor in order to make more clear which is due to God and which is not.
As the terminology of Christian theology developed, the Greek term latria came to be used to refer to the honor that is due to God alone, and the term dulia came to refer to the honor that is due to human beings, especially those who lived and died in Gods friendshipin other words, the saints. Scripture indicates that honor is due to these individuals (Matt. 10:41b). A special term was coined to refer to the special honor given to the Virgin Mary, who bore JesusGod in the fleshin her womb. This term, hyperdulia (huper [more than]+ dulia = "beyond dulia"), indicates that the honor due to her as Christs own Mother is more than the dulia given to other saints. It is greater in degree, but still of the same kind. However, since Mary is a finite creature, the honor she is due is fundamentally different in kind from the latria owed to the infinite Creator.
All of these termslatria, dulia, hyperduliaused to be lumped under the one English word "worship." Sometimes when one reads old books discussing the subject of how particular persons are to be honored, they will qualify the word "worship" by referring to "the worship of latria" or "the worship of dulia." To contemporaries and to those not familiar with the history of these terms, however, this is too confusing.
Consider how honor is given. We regularly give it to public officials. In the United States it is customary to address a judge as "Your Honor." In the marriage ceremony it used to be said that the wife would "love, honor, and obey" her husband. Letters to legislators are addressed to "The Honorable So-and-So." And just about anyone, living or dead, who bears an exalted rank is said to be worthy of honor, and this is particularly true of historical figures, as when children are (or at least used to be) instructed to honor the Founding Fathers of America.
These practices are entirely Biblical. We are explicitly commanded at numerous points in the Bible to honor certain people. One of the most important commands on this subject is the command to honor ones parents: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Ex. 20:12). God considered this command so important that he repeated it multiple times in the Bible (for example, Lev. 19:3, Deut. 5:16, Matt. 15:4, Luke 18:20, and Eph. 6:23). It was also important to give honor to ones elders in general: "You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord" (Lev. 19:32). It was also important to specially honor religious leaders: "Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron [the high priest], to give him dignity and honor" (Ex. 28:2).
The New Testament stresses the importance of honoring others no less than the Old Testament. The apostle Paul commanded: "Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due" (Rom. 13:7). He also stated this as a principle regarding ones employers: "Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ" (Eph. 6:5). "Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed" (1 Tim. 6:1). Perhaps the broadest command to honor others is found in 1 Peter: "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor" (1 Pet. 2:17).
The New Testament also stresses the importance of honoring religious figures. Paul spoke of the need to give them special honor in 1 Timothy: "Let the presbyters [priests] who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching" (1 Tim. 5:17). Christ himself promised special blessings to those who honor religious figures: "He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophets reward, and he who receives a righteous man [saint] because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous mans reward" (Matt. 10:41).
So, if there can be nothing wrong with honoring the living, who still have an opportunity to ruin their lives through sin, there certainly can be no argument against giving honor to saints whose lives are done and who ended them in sanctity. If people should be honored in general, Gods special friends certainly should be honored.
Hope this thread doesnt go the same way.
There are fallen angels, as described in the book of Job. Satan is a fallen angel, and the demons he rules are, too.
Some angels fell. Some did not. The ones who did not (like Michael and Gabriel, mentioned in the NT) continue in heaven loving and serving the Lord.
Thus the fallen angels have sinned. The others have not. They are servants of God and are not to be worshiped.
Which is a rather good example, come to think of it. The angels in heaven indeed are sinless. Yet we are not to worship them.
They are not described as omniscient, to my knowledge, so I assume they aren’t.
On the contrary. An implicit reference ca be found in the angels greeting to Mary in Luke 1:28: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you." The phrase "full of grace" is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. This word represents the proper name of the person being addressed by the angel, and it therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary. Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning "to fill or endow with grace." Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates a perfection of grace that is both intensive and extensive. This means that the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angels visit, and was not only as "full" or strong or complete as possible at any given time, but it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence to have been called "full of grace."
“It would be helpful to know to which aberration you are referring.”
I was responding to this statement in the original article:
“Protestant individuals, 1500 2000 years removed from the events in the NT, are pretty much on their own.”
I was trying to point out that as the church started out in Acts, and spread hither and yon, and this elder and that bishop became more prominent, and then, as we most of us know from church history, a battle broke out between the eastern and western authorities, starting the first major schism (Eastern Orthodox vs. Roman Catholic), and (from my perspective) the Roman Catholic church went downhill with more and more papal bulls and decrees that frequently (from my perspective) contradict Scripture - for example, the infamous work of Tetzel which Luther railed against, the selling of indulgences - that THEY were the aberrant ones. The further they wandered from Scripture, the more aberrant they became.
This is as opposed to faithful Christians, even before the Reformation (the Waldensians come to mind, as an organized group) which acknowledged Scripture and the authoritative decree of God. I see them, us, the Protestants, as the non-aberrant ones. Not perfectly, but in the main, I see us as the continuation of the early church.
I don’t see the RC church as totally aberrant. For example, they confess the Bible as the true word of God (with the addition of the Apogrypha), the creation of the world by God, the Trinity (very important), the sinfulness of mankind, the fact that Jesus is the Savior, He died for our sins, was buried, resurrected, and will return again - all very true and very important doctrines. So it is important to remember all that we have in common.
One might as well ask, if Jesus was God incarnate, why on earth would he need to go through the rigamarole of being "presented in the temple according to the law of Moses?"
It's not Christ's "sinlessness" that necessitates that Mary be sinless, it's His divinity!
In re: worship, yes, the word can evolve over time. Where I draw the line, as regards to Mary, would be praying to her, asking her to dispense extra grace (which I don’t think she has), falling before an image of her, lighting a candle to her, encouraging people to put faith in her, or putting faith in her myself.
As to “honor,” - to remember her with love, to appreciate her faithfulness, to respect her faithful life and witness, to look forward to meeting her in heaven, to acknowledge the wonderful role she played in being Jesus’ mother and caring for him - yes certainly I do honor her in these senses of the term.
Please see Acts 6:8 - Stephen is not considered sinless, yet the Bible plainly states that he was full of grace and power.
There is no condition on being sinless to receive the grace of God; in fact, God’s grace is what makes us sinless.
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