3 minute read

Mary, the Mother of God

By Sandra Ostapowich

Hold up. God has a mother? Isn’t that another one of those idolatrous Roman Catholic doctrines that Lutherans reject? No way is Mary that special, and no way does God have a mother. Mary is only the mother of Jesus, only mother to Christ. The mother of God? That’s just taking things too far…right?

Well, we’re Lutherans. What does it mean to say that Mary is the mother of God? Most importantly it means that God became man and entered this world to save us from our sins exactly the same way that the rest of us normal humans do—through the wombs of our mothers. God didn’t humble Himself a little bit and become a semi-man, semi-divine being like the false gods of other religions. The infinite, almighty, eternal God became a tiny, helpless, vulnerable baby Boy to die for you.

To say that Mary is the mother of God is to say that Jesus is fully man and fully God, just like we confess in the creeds. He’s not partly man and partly God with cool divine super powers and minor human flaws. He isn’t a god who just looks like a man. He really is a man and He really is God. The catechism teaches that Jesus is, “True God, begotten of His Father from all eternity, and true man, born of the Virgin Mary.” He is true God, without beginning or end, just as divine as the Father and the Spirit. And He is also True Man, right down to being born from a mom, just like every other little baby born on this earth since Cain and Abel.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that we’d much rather that God stayed up in heaven where we think He belongs, putting His nose only in the business we want Him to, never noticing our sins. We prefer a god who isn’t like us at all, who is completely foreign, even alien to us. We want a god who doesn’t have a mother, a god who doesn’t suffer, and most definitely a god who doesn’t die.

But thank God that isn’t the kind of God we have! We have the only God there is, who is God in the flesh, the One who gave us Himself. God is one of us so that people could not only touch God, but beat God, and drive nails into God’s hands and feet to hang God upon a cross to die. Yes, Jesus, Mary’s Son, God in the flesh was so fully man that, on Good Friday, God died on the cross for your sins and mine.

When Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, the grave was empty. God didn’t just become a disembodied ghost when He rose, leaving His dead humanity in the tomb to rot and decay. His body rose from the dead too.Thomas put his hand in the resurrected and glorified flesh of His wounds. And when God ascended into heaven, He didn’t just float out of His body. The disciples watched Him go up into the sky as far as they could see until the clouds blocked their view. Jesus, God the Son, seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty is still fully man and fully God.

In 451 AD, the Council of Chalcedon confessed Mary to not simply be the bearer of Christ (christokos), but the bearer of God Himself (theotokos). Thank God, since this is what Scripture says!

It is Mary’s Son who is special, not Mary. Her Son is Jesus, God Incarnate, Savior of the world. Mary is His mother, the mother of God.

Sandra Ostapowich lives in Plymouth, MN with her son, Isaac, and is a member at University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis.