We do not venerate Mary, the mother of Jesus. To worship her would be blasphemy, and would – perhaps ironically – contradict the express directive of Mary herself: “Do whatever He (Christ) tells you (John 2:5)!” We do not pray to Mary. We do not believe that Mary ascended into heaven, as the Bible never mentions anything remotely like that. We do not teach that Mary remained a virgin, because the Bible directly contradicts that.
That being said, I must also say this: as Protestant Christians, sometimes we are so fearful of giving Mary too much attention that we give her no attention at all. That is to our shame, as Mary is for us a wonderful example of faith, humility, and obedience to God – even when His providences are downright terrifying.
Do you remember when old Simeon took the child Jesus into his arms and blessed God (Luke 2:22-35)? Joseph and Mary were keeping the requirements of the Mosaic Law by presenting Jesus at the temple. Simeon turned to Mary and announced: “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Mary was privileged to bear the Son of God. To teach Him to walk, and to talk. To comfort Him when He skinned His knee. To raise Jesus to be a man. But these privileges were to bring with them the greatest of sorrows. Nowhere is this more evident than at the foot of Christ’s cross.
John 19:25 records it like this: but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Simon’s prophecy was being fulfilled through the tears. How could Mary have known when Jesus was a baby that her heart would have to break in this excruciating way?
Mary’s life was largely in the shadows. We see little of her in the Scriptures. But in the most awful moment of Christ’s agony, there is His mother. Mary, Christ’s faithful mother. Is there anything like a mother’s faithful love? It is not just a tender love; it is the toughest of loves. Where Mary used to kiss her boy on the forehead, His flesh has been grotesquely wounded by a cruel crown of thorns. Those hands and feet which Mary used to caress as a doting mom are now brutally nailed to an instrument of torture and death.
Because of her status, Mary must suffer largely in silence. She is not free to protest or to fight back. She can’t soothe Her son’s suffering in any tangible way. She can’t change this horrific situation. She can’t stop time. Like at Christ’s birth, Mary must trust God.
I think it’s profoundly interesting that, while the crowds are mocking and the priests are jeering and the soldiers are gambling, Mary is standing. A sword is piercing through her soul, but she is standing.
She does not faint. She does not hide. She does not run away. She stands. Right there with Jesus, Mary stands. Surely you would agree with me that this love is more than simply commendable or admirable. It is rock-solid. When most of the men have fled in fear, Mary stands in faith.
We stand on the Word, and not on the traditions of people. We stand on the Gospels, and not on the inventions of fantasy. We stand on Christ, and give His glory to no other. We do not worship Mary. But, when our hour comes, may we stand. Like Mary. Faithful to the end.