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.
You are the one who wrote, What do you call that place where people enter for purification after judgement, and following the purification they are saved?
If, as you now say, you “enjoy explaining Catholic doctrine”, you might want to to get better at it.
You also wrote, “What you believe contrary to scripture is of no concern here, as the thread is about Catholic Mariology, not your theological fantasies.”
This would be true, if this were a closed thread. However, since it is open, those of us who differ are allowed to dispute your assertions.
If my comments are “theological fantasies”, those who read them can decide for themselves. However, you must understand that your inability to do anything other than ASSERT catholic doctrine makes those on the fence more likely to side with me than you.
On most issues, it boils down to this: If you accept Catholic doctrine, then you MUST interpret scripture accordingly, no matter how much it twists the words around. If you do not accept Catholic doctrine, you are free to let the text speak for itself. I suspect this is why Erasmus found it challenging to interpret Scripture, and why Luther laughed at him.
When the sinlessness of Mary rests on the misunderstanding about what a perfect past participle implies, and this on one verse...then the whole edifice rests on sand. One grain.
Believe what you wish, but I retain the right on open threads to dispute it.
As you said, it would be very odd for Christ to give Mary to John to take care of had He had other brothers. He would have been breaking Jewish law. In that day, “brothers” was used for cousins too. The term “firstborn” was a title of honor given to your first child, whether or not you had more. In Mt 13:55-56 four men are names as brothers of the Lord. However, at least two of them, James and Joseph, were the sons of Mary the wife of Cleophas. Also, when the family journeyed to the Temple and lost Jesus, no mention was made of other children or “brothers” of any kind.
There is more evidence that Christ was an only child than there is that He wasn’t .
I’m sorry, Mr. Rogers, but that’s just not true. History teaches us that all Christians answered to Peter and his successors for several hundred years. For many generations, all Christians knew and accepted the Apostolic succession. St. Paul bowed to Peter’s authority and all the “rituals” the Apostles set up.
All who wish to review Scripture about Apostolic Succession should review:
Acts 1:15-26, Acts 14:23, Acts 20:28
1 Cor 12:27-31
Eph 4:11, Eph 2:19-21
1 Tim 3:1-13, 1 Tim 4:13-14, 1 Tim 5:17-22, 2 Tim 2:1-2
Titus 1: 5-9
I hope you will review these passages from one of the original translations of the Bible.
You can post anything you want, I simply point out what the focus of the thread is, and therefore what the focus of my responses will be.
“As you said, it would be very odd for Christ to give Mary to John to take care of had He had other brothers. He would have been breaking Jewish law.”
It is also very odd if Mary had step-sons who could take care of her. If a woman had no sons, her step sons should take care of her.
“In that day, brothers was used for cousins too.”
Yes, and even today we can use ‘brothers’ to speak of associates with no family relations. However, there WERE words for cousin, and they were commonly used. And nowhere in Scripture are they referred to as cousins. They were also always, while she lived, associated with Mary.
“The term firstborn was a title of honor given to your first child, whether or not you had more.”
Not exactly. When Luke wrote of John the Baptist, he didn’t call him ‘firstborn’. I’m not saying it is wrong, just that it wasn’t used by Luke when describing John.
“In Mt 13:55-56 four men are names as brothers of the Lord. However, at least two of them, James and Joseph, were the sons of Mary the wife of Cleophas.”
What it says is, “55 Is not this the carpenters son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56And are not all his sisters with us?”
The idea that James and Joseph were the sons of “Mary the wife of Cleophas” was first proposed by Jerome, and his ‘proof’ is a bit underwhelming. It certainly is not provable from Scripture.
And at the Temple, it was Jesus who was extraordinary.
Yes. As a general proposition the plain natural reading of the Scripture is also the Catholic reading. It requires a mariophobic mind of a 20c Protestant to invent the doctrine of sinfulness or non-virginity of Mary when there is zero scriptural support for it, then demand prooftexts from Catholics.
My point is that Paul was arguing jesus was the Christ (the messiah, the Anointed One), who died and was raised “according to the scriptures.” What scriptures? Not the Jewish ones for sure. And the NT did not exist yet.
I’ll try to write later about the church fathers. I don’t have much heartburn with those in the first few centuries, but it helps to remember that those living as early as 250 were as remote from the Apostles as we are from the Mexican War. That isn’t as remote as some might think - my great grandfather fought in the Civil War - but it isn’t exactly concurrent. This is all the more true given the difficulty in travel and how difficult it could be to access writings from many sources.
I read a book about the Civil War recently, and was struck by how utterly different culture was then. I’m still limping a bit 6 months after taking a tumble from a horse. There were guys then who had horses roll over them, who within a week were riding 50 miles a day and more in winter weather.
One Lt General, in battle, cut the head off of one man with a sword just before the man could kill his aide. He had over two dozen horses shot out from under him. I’ve met a number of 3 & 4 star Generals...we’re pretty remote from that culture as well.
By 400 AD, they were debating and excommunicating each other over issues like the exact nature of Jesus within the Trinity. Now the Trinity is plainly taught in Scripture, but it isn’t explored the way a Greek philosopher would - and that is how they debated it.
I’ve accused Luther of being the ‘Ann Coulter of the Reformation’, and I sometimes fall into the same trap. And it may be that I will need to back down from my statement. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time I’ve apologized!
However, by 400+ AD, most of the ‘fathers’ were acting as though they cared more about their rhetorical reputation and intellectual standing than they were caring for the flock. And by this time, they were as remote from the Apostles as we are from the American Revolution.
You talk of my hubris - which is pretty great, I’ll agree - but what about the hubris of someone who thinks they can not only reason out the inner workings of the Trinity, but do it so well as to damn to hell anyone who disagrees? My hubris is limited to saying that what God has revealed about Himself, we can accept, but we cannot fully reason out and comprehend. I’m humble compared to the church fathers.
My hubris is enough that I will substitute teach in a Sunday School class, but not enough for me to set myself up as The Authority Over All American Churches (ref the Coptic Church, and others).
“So an American in the 21st century—a TOTALLY different culture than that represented in the New Testament—with no direct access to the original Scriptures, reading a bad English translation, without the requisite background in Latin, koine Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic languages, knows better than the early Church Fathers living in the first several centuries of the Church...”
You overstate the case here. It is not uncommon to bridge cultures. My Filipina wife does it daily, and I’ve traveled to many different countries. The Greek and Hebrew texts we can buy on the Internet today are probably as good as what most had access to in 400 AD. I have a number of EXCELLENT translations, and lexicons and access to books of word studies that are useful. I have commentaries and studies written by people who are expert in all those languages.
What did strike me as I read about the church fathers this week was how familiar it seemed in spite of the time gap...the arrogance, the pettiness, and the concern for power.
Oh well. Like I said, I’ll write more later. If I need to apologize, I will. I’ve had lots of practice...
Referring to Mary as the NT Ark of the Covenant is a stretch as the AOC was representative of the Mercy Seat of God. It was kept in the Holy of Holies in the temple and was visited only by the Levite high priest once a year for the Day of Atonement sacrifice.
God's special Shekinah glory dwelt on the Mercy Seat atop the Ark of the Covenant. According to the prophet Jeremiah (3:15-17) the Ark of the Covenant will play an important future role.
The Ark of the Covenant was made of acacia wood and covered outside and inside in pure gold. It was 45 inches 27 inches by 27 inches. Three sacred things were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant. Inside were Aaron's sacred rod, which was used to perform miracles in front of Pharaoh; manna, which God gave the Israelites to eat in the wilderness; and, the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone.
To the ancient Hebrews, the Ark was both a divine manifestation and a talisman so powerful that they carried it with them into battle a weapon of God.
With that history, I fail to see the comparison of the Ark to Mary. It sounds as if you are saying Mary is the new way to come into the presence of God. When Jesus was crucified, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was ripped into two, showing that we can all approach the throne of God and the need for an atoning sacrifice was no longer needed. Jesus was the “Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world” and was the propitiation (satisfactory payment) for our sins and not just expiation (a covering only until the Messiah came).
If Mary were sinless, she would have committed a sin when she declared herself a sinner in need of redemption.
If Mary were sinless, the entire word of God would be made a lie. No savior would be needed if even one mortal were able to be born without sin. She had a mortal father, thus she lived a life punctuated by sin.
That’s exactly my point, Mr. Rogers. Mary had no sons or stepsons to take care of her. She had no other children. Christ, who loved her, gave her to the disciple He loved most to take care of her. He found the best person He could for her so she wouldn’t be alone.
In the Aramaic language of Jesus’ time, there was no word for cousin. Jesus and the Apostles spoke Aramaic. When they related the good news of Christ to others, they used Aramaic. Everyone knew what they meant when they said “brothers.”
I’m not sure what your point is about John the Baptist. Jesus is the Firstborn, and labeled as such, to show that He is the fulfillment of the Scriptures about the Messiah. John did not need to be a Firstborn to be the great prophet he was and to fulfill Scripture.
In Mt 13:55-56 the Aramaic speaking relatives of Jesus are speaking of Him. They cite Mary of Nazareth as His mother and His 4 male cousins as His “brothers” because they have no word for cousins in Aramaic. All male and female cousins at the time were called brothers and sisters.
Jerome’s proof that the “brothers” were the sons of Mary the wife of Cleophas, while you may find it underwhelming, is more proof than you’ve got that they weren’t. Jerome was quite the scholar and he was examining the historical record in an era much closer to Jesus’ time than we are. I’ll take his word for it. He is a saint, after all.
I’m not sure what your point about Jesus at the Temple is. Of course, Christ was extraordinary. But there is no mention of siblings in the passage. Indeed the tone of the passage is that the trio of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were very much alone. Only Mary and Joseph went to look for Him. No one else is mentioned. Again, you are straining too hard to make the Scriptures mean what you’d like them to mean. The Gospels go to great lengths to mention all the people who were distressed at one time or another by their love for Jesus: Peter, the Apostles, Mary and Joseph, Mary Magdalene- they were all distressed at times by Christ’s actions; yet Jesus is missing and lost and no mention is made of distressed siblings. Just parents.
I will be signing off this thread now. But I do have a final point. This thread has been an interesting and courteous discussion, for the most part. I try to follow 1 Pet 3:15 in defending the faith: “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to do it with gentleness and respect.” And if you need more Scriptural evidence for that approach, check out Phil 1:15-16 which reads, “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.”
Well, Mary IS a new way to come into the presence of God as she delivered Him, literally.
She did not. She declared Christ her Savior. She said nothing about her sin.
That is where you lost me. Why can’t it be the Jewish ones? Paul could’ve certainly argued that he was the Christ from the Jewish Scripture.
The answer will not be found in your religion, or your logic...
The answer will be found in the scriptures...
Joh 7:5 For neither did his brethren believe in him.
This is speaking of Jesus' brothers here...They did not believe He was the Messiah...So of course, Jesus sent His Mother to His favorite apostle, John rather than to His unbelieving brothers...
Obviously Jesus' brothers were saved 'after' the Resurrection...Jesus made a special appearance to His brother James, and likely the others as well...
1Co 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
And we don't know one way or another, but Mary may have moved in with one of her Christian sons after they were saved...
Gal 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
BROTHER...Brother is Brother...
Luk 1:36 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren.
COUSIN...Cousin is Cousin...Cousin is not Brother...
Col 4:10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, saluteth you: and Mark, the cousin german of Barnabas, touching whom you have received commandments. If he come unto you, receive him.
Someone else's Cousin...Not, Brother...
There's no way around it...
Psa 69:8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children.
And as you can see, it is prophesied in the OT in the Hebrew language that Jesus would have brothers and sisters...
There is nothing to dispute...
First, the Aramaic language seems to have a word for cousin. I base that on this web site: http://www.peshitta.org/lexicon/
I looked up the Aramaic word for cousin. It had one, and it differed from the word for brother.
Also, the NT was written in Greek. It sometimes transliterates Aramaic words, but if the Holy Spirit was truly guiding the writer, then the Holy Spirit could have led him to use the Greek word for cousin as well...at least ONCE! Think of all the confusion this would have relieved!
I find it a bit odd that Catholics read so much into just the participle in Luke 1.28, yet ignore words when looking at other verses.
I guess I don’t understand why Jesus needed the inaccurate title ‘firstborn’ to show his greatness, but John did not. Also, it seems a bit foolish for the Holy Spirit to lead a man to use a word that has an obvious, well accepted and yet - according to Catholics - inaccurate word to describe Jesus. If the rest of Matthew’s account doesn’t convince someone that Jesus is the Messiah, I doubt the inaccurate use of ‘firstborn’ in chapter 1 will sway them!
Jerome wrote nearly 400 years later, and admitted he was looking for a way to reconcile Mary’s lifelong virginity with Scripture. If you wish a fuller discussion, you might try this: http://books.google.com/books?id=cgQQAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR3&lr=&as_brr=0&output=html
Jerome’s theory contradicts other church fathers closer to the events - although they use stepbrothers.
No it does not mean that righteousness is the gift at all!!! We seem to be in agreement that the gift was not merited but the gift is all the blessings that go along with being the "Mother of the Lord", but there is no intrinsic righteousness built into the gift.