Can Mary Save Anyone?

by Spiros Zodhiates

Spiros ZodhiatesChristian worship should be a joyful experience, not a dread duty. The joy of genuine Christian worship springs from an understanding of the nature and disposition of God in relation to man. If you feel that He is merely a stem taskmaster who seldom forgives and is ready to cast you into outer darkness at the slightest provocation, then your approach to Him will be in fear and trembling. But if you realize that He is a loving and ever-forgiving heavenly Father, you will approach Him with praise inspired by faith, and with unspeakable joy in your heart.

The poet Carpini once asked his friend Haydn how it was that his church music was almost always animated, cheerful, and even gay. The great composer replied, "I cannot make it otherwise. I write according to the thoughts I feel; when I think upon God, my heart is so full of joy that notes dance and leap, as it were, from my pen; and, since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be easily forgiven me that I serve Him with a cheerful spirit."

As Christians we believe in an almighty and awe-inspiring God, but we also know that He is ready to forgive and save those who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that the first disposition of God toward men is not condemnation but salvation. Condemnation follows only if His offer of salvation is rejected.

It was this realization of God's omnipotence and readiness to save that caused the Virgin Mary to burst into a song of praise. The words of the Magnificat were not addressed to an angel or to human beings but were an expression of worship to God Himself. Observe that this was private and personal worship. "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."

There was nothing material or ritualistic in her worship, and her song of worship was not uttered in a synagogue or church, but in the home of her cousin Elizabeth. Those who worship God only in church lose the sublimest and perhaps the most important experience of worship. It is the home first of all that should be filled with the presence of God. It is there that salvation must be experienced and lived out by each member individually. Such a home will be a little bit of heaven on Earth, as it must have been in the home of Elizabeth that day when Mary visited her.

Mary's joyful worship was proof that she recognized her proper standing before God. If she were equal with Him, or even considered herself to be, she would never have worshiped Him but would have addressed Him in words that implied equality, even as the Lord Jesus did in His high-priestly prayer when He said, "Glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17: 5).

Her worship was always that of an unworthy servant, a humble being to an almighty and miraculously energizing God. She addressed Him as "God my Saviour." She never called herself the Mother of God, for that would have been to assign herself a position higher than God. The Scriptures reveal God as Trinity, not as four persons. We see this in Jesus' command that we be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). The name of the Virgin Mary is not mentioned in the same category, despite the high honor conferred upon her by God. To her the Father was God; the Son whom she bore as the Godman was God in her relation to Him; and the Holy Spirit was God.

Mary realized that her Savior had to be God. No mere man could save her or anyone else. If she could mediate salvation, she could have saved herself. If she were God, she would have had no need to call either the Father or the Son her Savior. We never find the Lord Jesus calling His Father God His Savior, nor do we find the Holy Spirit calling Christ or the Father His Savior. Mary the Virgin was clearly a sinner saved by grace, the only way anyone can be saved, and God in Christ was her Savior.

The Virgin Mary believed in the exclusiveness of Christ's Saviorhood and in His deity, for it was commonly held among the Jews that only God could forgive sins (Mark 2:7).

It is my own personal belief that the Virgin Mary was here referring primarily to the Lord Jesus as God in His pre-incarnate state. It is the Lord Jesus who is predominantly presented in Scripture as the Savior. The announcement of the angel to Joseph in Matthew 1:21 clearly defined the function of the child to be born: "She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." And the explanation given in verse 23 is that this was a fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matt. 1:23). This was the word of divine revelation. The Virgin believed the angel's message that the One to be born was God incarnate. And here in the Magnificat, as she opened her mouth in praise to God, the first name she called Jesus by was "God my Savior."

What kind of Savior was the Lord Jesus? We find the word savior used in the Old Testament to describe those who were used of God to save the nation from its enemies. But Christ was announced as a Savior, not of the Jews from national slavery, but of individuals from their sins. "For he shall save his people from their sins" is the revelation of God's purpose in Matthew 1:21.

Scripture declares that it is before the Lord Jesus Christ that "every knee shall bowand every tongue shall confess to God" (Rom. 14:11). This is never said of Mary. Nor does she express the desire, or presume to have the right or ability, to save anybody. You, too, can be saved only as she was saved, through her Son Jesus Christ. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

From Dr. Zodhiates' book, The Song of the Virgin, ©1973. Published by AMG Publishers.

Dr. Zodhiates is president emeritus of AMG International and publisher emeritus of Pulpit Helps.

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