Do you know Krishna’s mother? Sun Myung Moon’s? How about Buddha’s mother or Muhammad’s? Do you know Zarathustra’s or Barack Obama’s mother’s name? Have you ever heard of Aminah? How about Queen Maha Maya? No? They are the mothers of Muhammad and Gautama Buddha, respectively. And unless you are a biographer of either man, you’ve probably never heard of them.
How about the mother of Jesus, have you heard of her? Of course you have, and so has every generation for two thousand years. The stunning part about this truth is that Mary herself predicted that you would know her:
And Mary said, “my soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)
Imagine for a moment the audacity of an unwed, pregnant teenager, of a subjugated people, from an insignificant town, predicting that she would be known in a most positive way for generations to come? What are the odds of that becoming true?
Setting Mary aside, let’s do a comparative statistical analysis by choosing for her competition the most prominent woman of the first century. If I asked you to identify the most famous woman of the first century, a mere thirty years after the death of Christ, would you be able to tell me her name? What if I told you that she was daughter to one of Rome’s most celebrated generals and great-granddaughter, great niece, sister, wife and mother to five different emperors? Would it be fair to pit a hillbilly Jewess against royal Roman blood? Yet, history has already turned the page on Agrippina the younger.
The “Mother” of all wagers:
What would you set the odds at, if, in the first century, you were asked to pit Mary of Nazareth – wife of the carpenter Joseph, mother to Jesus against Julia Agrippina – great-granddaughter of Augustus, great-niece and adopted granddaughter of Tiberius, daughter of Germanicus, sister to Caligula, wife to Claudius and mother of Nero; a woman who virtually ruled the Roman Empire for the first half a dozen years while her son got his sea legs on? How would odds-makers have set the bet as to who would be known in a hundred years or a thousand or two thousand?
Divine Trash Talk:
You see, one of the things about the God of the Bible that you may not have known is that when it comes to “talking trash,” He makes Michael Jordan look like Urkel. He asks you to compare Him to “other gods.” He heckles those other gods. He even taunts the worshipers of those gods to put up or shut up. And on one occasion He forwards an alibi to the adherents of an AWOL opponent by suggesting that the reason for the “no-show” may be that their god is “relieving himself in the woods.”
Then there’s Mary. And here, He tells the world that the mother of Jesus is bigger, better, stronger, more famous, more loved, more talked about than Muhammad’s, Buddha’s, Krishna’s, Hirohito’s, or Obama’s. Mary, mother of Jesus, will be blessed in word, in song, in legend, in statue, in oil slick, in burnt toast, in potato chips and in dreams for the rest of history. The Virgin Mary will be history’s favorite mother when Aminah, Maha Maya, Devaki, Sadako, and Stanley Ann are less than an asterisk in a forgotten book. And God does this over and over again to get the stilted, deaf, dumb and obstinate to take notice. That’s why the angel tells Mary, “With God, all things are possible.” He is constantly taking the weak, the foolish, the base and the despised, calling the world to attention and saying, “watch this!”
“. . . from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” And Mary makes this comment even before Jesus is born. The boast is uttered before he’s worshiped by shepherds or magi, before he’s prophesied over by Simeon or Anna, before he startles the lawyers in the temple, feeds the thousands, straightens the withered hand, gives sight to the blind, before he gives hell to the self-righteous or calms the wayward sea. Mary is convinced that her relationship to this unborn child will bring her world renown before he ever forgives his tormentors, conquers death, or ascends to the right hand of the Father.
While there may be some surface similarities between Christ, Muhammad and Buddha; the differences are legion. Only one of these men claimed deity, only one – the capacity to forgive sins and only one of these men has left us an empty grave. The cynic will pass over these curiosities but the honest skeptic has got to ask why, how, who is like unto Him? For that matter, who is even like unto his mother?
One more note, to those who make more of Mary than even she would. Look at her words closely, one more time. She does not magnify herself. She is not co-redemptrix and she would condemn anyone who would foolishly elevate her to such a blasphemous juxtaposition. Mary knew that there is one mediator between God and man, and Mary knew that man was not merely “her” child, but the Son of God.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Yes, highly favored of God but seeking to magnify Him with her soul. “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior”; of more faith than the just priest Zacharias but still recognizing her need of a Savior. A sinless, perpetual virgin has no need of a Savior.
And she doesn’t speak from apparitions or crying statues, she doesn’t need to. Not in the upper room or even at the crucifixion but Mary’s last recorded words are found at the inauguration of our Lord’s earthly ministry, speaking to the servants of the feast at the wedding at Cana, Mary says, “Whatever He says to you, do!” Her last words were recorded by the Holy Spirit of God and they are more than sufficient. If she were here today, she’d probably say, “didn’t you hear me the first time? Hear ye him and get to it!” Why do we not hear from Mary, the mother of our Lord after the wedding? I believe the reason is caught up in the Baptizer’s admonition, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
While there were things that Mary pondered, even that made her marvel, the uniqueness of her son and her place in history for the blessing of bearing him, were not a mystery to her. Mary did know. Do you? Have you considered the Christ?
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. He that believes on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.
(John 3:17-18, 36 KJV)