POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

The Blessed Virgin and Jesus' Family

The authors of the books of Jude and James are identified in a very interesting way in the New Testament. They seem to be identified as brothers of Jesus himself (Mark 6:1-5, Jude 1:1, Matthew 13:53-58). It might come as a surprise to some, but it appears that Jesus grew up in a family and had siblings. In fact we read this account in the gospel of Matthew.

53And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas [Jude]? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

Matthew 13:53-58 ESV

Furthermore, Luke’s gospel contains another account  that describes Jesus mother and brothers coming to look for him in a crowd of people.  The account in Luke 8 reads as follows:

19Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Luke 8:19-21 ESV

Paul the apostle spoke of James in Galatians chapter 1:18, 19 as being the “Lord’s brother.” Additionally, the earliest church history written by a man named Eusebius called Jude, the brother of the Lord according to the flesh. (Church History, Book III, Chapter 19). Now this could seem odd for those of us who may have Catholic families, upbringings or friends as the Catholic view is that Mary, Jesus’ mom, was a virgin for life. Now, we don’t have too much space here to cover Mary in detail but let me just say that Protestants seem to give Mary too little props and respect while Catholics tend to go way over the top in the other direction.  What follows will be a few agreements and disagreements Protestants and Roman Catholics have about the blessed virgin.

Some Agreements

Both Protestants and Catholics hold that Mary was the virgin mother of Jesus fulfilling the OT prophesy that the Messiah would be born in just this way (See Matthew 1:18-25; Isaiah 7:14). Additionally, Mary is said to be favored by God with a unique role in history to bear the Son of God in her womb, raise him in her care and unleash Jesus the man into life and ministry (Luke 1:26-38). Finally, Mary in a worshipping response to God known as the magnificat, declares that she will be called blessed by all generations (Luke 1:46-55).  These agreements are clear yet some major disagreements remain in the Christian view of Jesus’ mom.

Remaining Disagreements

First, though the idea of Mary’s of perpetual virginity has a long history in the Catholic church, it has no grounds in Holy Scripture. One reason is that Mary clearly had a husband and we are told in Matthew 1:24,25 that “he took his wife, but knew her (biblical language for sex) not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”  Furthermore, an unconsummated marriage was contrary to the teaching of Scripture (Genesis 2:24,25 and 1 Corinthians 7). Another reason, mentioned above, is that Mary had other children. The context of  Matthew 13 cited above is clearly that of a family. Only a bit of hand waving can make father, mother, brother, sisters actually mean cousins or close relatives and not kids. A second disagreement regarding Mary is that she was sinless and unmarked by original sin. This doctrine, known as the immaculate conception of Mary teaches that Mary was conceived without original sin and did not sin. It was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854 but is not articulated in the Bible. Third, we do not agree that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven upon her death as such teaching is simply speculation without any biblical warrant.

The Scripture presents Mary as a human being like you and me though blessed and chosen by God for a very special role in redemptive history. Yet she is not a co-mediator between us and God as there is only one mediator that of Jesus himself (1 Timothy 2:6) Whether she appears magically upon ham sandwiches, in the clouds or in strange water stains on sides of buildings I’ll leave for you to decide.  I’m agnostic on these matters.