The most-loved title that Jesus uses for God is “Father.” God, who is not male, chose this designation to describe the protective care that is provided to all God’s children. It was an apt symbol for a patriarchal society that confirmed all relational, legal and public authority on the male head of households. But does the use of the title of “Father” negate the metaphor of God as “Mother?” Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we find motherly metaphors of God. This article looks at the role of Mother in the life and teaching of Jesus.
Jesus was born of a woman.
In Genesis 3:15, God prophesies that Eve and Eve’s descendant will defeat the serpent with whom she is at war. The promised one is the seed of Woman. Thousands of years later, we learn the fulfillment is found in the birth of Jesus, son of Mary.
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1 NIV)
It was Mary, recognizing the promise to Eve, who said, “May your promise be fulfilled to me.” And it was. Mary’s virginity meant that Jesus was not fathered by a man, but was supernaturally the Son of God. Jesus’s birth has its roots in God’s promise to Eve. The one born to woman would defeat the enemy. In Galatians 4 , Paul cements this fulfillment further.
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman… (Gal. 4:4 NIV)
Because Jesus was born from a woman, he is human. Because Jesus was born of a woman, he uniquely fulfills the ancient prophecy that the seed of Woman would destroy the evil one. Jesus’s mother was as important as his Father in providing an atoning sacrifice for humanity. Without the humanity he inherited from Mary, Jesus would have no kinship with us to save us.
Jesus teaches that Supernal Parents are critical.
As a son born under illicit circumstances – by an unwed teen mother – Jesus was particularly enamored with paternity. “Father” was Jesus’s favorite title for God. He used the Aramaic term “Abba” to reveal his close relationship with God as “Dad.”
Jesus famously argued with the Pharisees over paternal descent, (which was their way of subtly discrediting him as a bastard) accusing them of devilish origins. “But our father is Abraham!” they protested. Jesus agreed that they were literal descendants of Abraham, as he was, but he points them beyond the physical heritage to their spiritual heritage. Jesus teaches that the proof of heavenly patronage is belief. Those who believe Jesus’s words, have God as “heavenly” Father (John 8). Those who do not believe his teaching are “fathered” by The Liar.
God becomes Our Father when we believe the words of Jesus.
But, maternal origins are as important as paternal descent throughout the Bible. And, we find our Supernal Mother is just as important as our Supernal Father in the gospel.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:12-14a)
Katherine Bushnell points out in God’s Word to Women, that in these verses, the children of God are not born of three things:
- natural descent (genetics)
- human decision – (sexual desire)
- a husband’s “will” (ditto)
In this discussion on Godly birth, one thing is left out of the options involved in a birth… The mother. The mother’s birth-role is not excluded. This is because we are birthed from God as our Heavenly Mother, like Jesus became flesh through Mary as her earthly son: without the aid of a husband’s “will” or carnal passion. This motherly metaphor ties our spiritual birth with Jesus’ fleshly birth -The Word became flesh- to illustrate how through Jesus, we become children of God.
The seed of Woman is Jesus, but it is also those who have received Jesus and believed in his name. We are born of God, like Jesus was born of a woman.
You must be BORN…again.
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:5-6
Who gives spiritual birth to us? The Spirit, our Mother. We are the fruit of Her womb. Unless we change and become like little children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Mat 18:3). Unless we are born of our Heavenly “Mother,” we have no right to call God our “Father.”
Who’s your mother?