Why Did Jesus Call His Mother "Woman"? Unveiling the Mystery and Meaning

Jesus called his mother "woman" on two distinct occasions. The first instance occurred during the wedding at Cana (John 2:4), and the second was at the crucifixion (John 19:26). For centuries, believers have been intrigued by the manner in which Jesus addressed his mother, Mary, by calling her "woman". 

In each instance, the term "woman" underscores the broader spiritual themes surrounding Mary's role and relationship with her son. To appreciate the full significance behind Jesus calling his mother "woman", we need to consider its cultural, theological, and symbolic implications. Let us explore the reasons behind Jesus' choice of words and uncover the rich meaning it holds for the Christian faith.

Cultural context of ‘woman’ in ancient Israel

The first key to understanding Jesus' use of the term "woman" is to consider the cultural context in which he lived. In ancient Israel, the word "woman" was not considered disrespectful or derogatory. Rather, it was a respectful and socially acceptable form of address, similar to "ma'am" or "madam" in modern times. Recognizing this historical context allows us to appreciate that Jesus was not demeaning his mother by calling her "woman" but addressing her with respect and courtesy.

Theological symbolism: the woman’s role in salvation

In addition to its cultural context, the term "woman" carries significant theological symbolism. In the Bible, Eve is the first woman, created from Adam's rib, and represents the beginning of humanity. However, Eve's disobedience led to the introduction of sin and death into the world. Conversely, Mary is often referred to as the "new Eve" because her obedience to God brought forth Jesus, the Savior, and offered humanity the hope of redemption. 

By calling his mother, Mary, "woman," Jesus was likely drawing attention to her vital role in salvation history, emphasizing her importance not just as his own mother, but as a figure of paramount significance in the broader narrative of God's relationship with humanity.

Affirming the woman as intercessor

Jesus' use of the term "woman" can be seen as an affirmation of Mary's intercessory role. For instance, at the wedding in Cana, Mary brings the lack of wine to Jesus' attention. His response, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come," seems somewhat abrupt. However, despite stating that his time had not come, Jesus goes on to perform his first miracle by turning water into wine. This has profound theological implications.

It means, Jesus performed his first miracle just because of the intercession of his mother Mary, even though his time has not come. He broke the norm and listened to the intercession of his mother. 

This exchange can be interpreted as Jesus recognizing and acknowledging Mary's intercessory role as she brings the needs of others to her son's attention. This event demonstrates Mary's unique intercessory role, as she brings human needs to her son's notice and serves as an advocate for those in need.

The woman who is the spiritual mother of all believers

During Jesus' crucifixion, he once again refers to his mother as "woman" while entrusting her to his beloved disciple John. John 19:26-27 states: "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother.'" 

In this heartrending moment, Jesus employs both the terms "woman" and "mother." By calling her "mother," Jesus ensures that Mary will be taken care of in her earthly life, acknowledging her maternal relationship with him. 

Simultaneously, by addressing her as "woman," he highlights her spiritual role as the mother of all believers. This profound exchange underscores Mary's all-encompassing maternal role, which transcends her biological connection to Jesus and embraces everyone who follows him.

Conclusion

In examining the instances where Jesus called his mother, Mary, "woman" and the themes surrounding these events, we gain insight into the rich meaning behind this form of address. From his first miracle at the wedding in Cana to the heartrending moment at the cross, Jesus acknowledges and emphasizes Mary's intercessory role and her position as the spiritual mother of all believers. By understanding the context and significance of these events, we deepen our appreciation of Mary's vital role in the Christian faith, salvation history, and her enduring presence in the lives of believers throughout history.

Final Words

It is possible that some of you will agree with my explanation, while others may reject it. If you are a Catholic, you might appreciate what I have to say, but if you are a Protestant, you might disagree. It is important not to let denominational beliefs obscure the truth. The truth is that if you believe Jesus is God, then it logically follows that Mary is the mother of God. There is no need to distort this fact or to cherry-pick Bible verses to contradict it and mislead other believers.

Comments

  1. What a clear, lucid, and lovely explanation. And thank you for your summary under Final Words. I've never understood why some people are so resistant to Mary's role in Christianity.

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