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"Blessed is She Who Has Believed": Reflections on Mary as Prophet



The Mother of God is the glory of the world, a world glorified in God and of God, and in itself possessing and giving birth to God... In her and through her is revealed the ultimate fate of the world.

Mother Maria of Paris


Listen to her heart—a heart that in its grief has compressed the lifetime of her Son.

Hollis Gause


The Pentecostal movement is essentially feminine.

Kimberly Ervin Alexander




Mary of Nazareth appears in Luke’s narrative as a prophet among prophets—as the prophet among the prophets—at the definitive inflection point of Israel’s history. As Robert Jenson says,


In Luke, it is plain: the ‘Holy Spirit’ whom the angel said was to ‘come upon’ Mary is the Spirit who spoke by the prophets… It was a constitutive yet unpredictable thing in old Israel, that the Spirit would ‘come upon’ so-and-so, with the result that he or she ‘prophesied’—often more nilly than willy. There had long been no such prophecy. Now, in the vicinity of this birth, as Luke tells the story, there is a positive epidemic of such visitations: everywhere Mary goes with the child, someone comes down with a case of prophesy.


Mary, that is, appears in these chapters as the central figure of a sudden resurgence of Spirit-inflected prophecy: the prophetic Spirit comes upon Mary and by virtue of the result of this visitation also upon others. But by the Spirit’s coming upon Mary, she does not like other prophets before or around her bring forth a speech; she brings forth a child… Mary is the prophet who utters forth the eternal Word himself and as such. It is because the Word is personally and completely there, spoken by Mary’s willing gestation and parturition, that suddenly there are again Spirit-driven prophets.[1]


And so, Jenson concludes, ‘Mary is the archprophet, the paradigm and possibility of prophecy’.[2] She is the possibility of prophecy in the sense that God’s Yes to us comes through her Yes to God. She is the paradigm of prophecy in that by faith she sets the pattern her son fulfills in his works, so that as we are imitating her, following her example, we participate in his life, contributing to his work and sharing his blessing.


Our faith in Christ not only binds us to his mother but also commits us to beliefs about her. And our devotion to him bestirs in us gratitude toward her. In her, God becomes human. Without her, God is not one with us. Apart from her body, the Word has no body. In the words of Mother Maria of Paris: ‘Without the humanity of the Mo­­ther of God, Christ would not be the Son of Man. He would have in himself no human nature. He would not lift it up with him upon the cross, nor transfigure it, nor deify it in his ascension.’[3] Or in the words of one early Pentecostal preacher: ‘As the virgin Mary among all women, so are the people that compose the church among all people. Blot the name of the virgin Mary out of sacred history then you lose trace of Jesus. Erase her from your mind, and you have no Christ Jesus. Disbelieve the statements about her and you have no God’.[4] Or, again, in Jenson’s words:


Without Mary’s act of acquiescence, her ‘Let it be so for me’, and without her child-carrying and birth-labor, the Logos would not be Jesus of Nazareth. That is, without Mary’s act the Logos would not live the particular life over against the Father and in the Spirit that he in fact does. That is, without Mary’s act, the life between the Son and the Father in the Spirit would be different than it in fact is.[5]


Pentecostals typically depict Christ as the one to be imitated. And, needless to say, there is a wisdom to this way of thinking.[6] But it is truer to say Christ simply is the condition or actuality in which the imitation of God is possible.[7] Said differently, we can imitate Christ only because of what he accomplished. And wonder of wonders, he did not accomplish any of it apart from Mary’s participation. So, by choosing her for this work, God established her as one we need to imitate in order to enter into participation with the Spirit, imitating the Father as Christ does.


Because Mary bore the Word of the Lord, there is a Word to be borne by others and others to bear that Word. And because she related to the Word the way that she did, giving him all and giving him to all, we know what it looks like to be faithful to our calling as the prophetic people of God.[8] Her flesh, enlivened by God, gives life to God’s humanity. And precisely in this way, she serves as our example, showing us that to be prophetic is to let God happen to you and in you. Like Israel’s other prophets, she is anointed by the Spirit, burdened with the Word of the Lord. But God not only speaks to her; God becomes her child—dependent on her mercy, needing her attention, desperate for her care. Just so, she uniquely models for us the faithful life, showing what it means to bear and nurture the Word of God in ways that are good for us and good for others.


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[1] Robert W. Jenson, ‘An Attempt to Think about Mary’, Dialog 31.4 (Fall 1992), 259-264 (261-262). [2] Jenson, ‘An Attempt to Think about Mary’, 262. [3] Maria Skobtsova, ‘Veneration of the mother of God’, n.p.; available online: http://www.berdyaev.com/skobtsova/veneratio_Bogomater.html. (Translation modified for readability.) [4] John D Shore, ‘Our Weekly Sermon’, The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate 6.38 (Jan 18, 1923), 2. [5] Jenson, ‘An Attempt to Think about Mary’, 263. [6] See, for example, 1 Cor. 11.1 and 1 Pet. 2.21. [7] See Eph. 5.1. [8] Roger Stronstad, The Prophethood of All Believers: A Study in Luke’s Charismatic Theology (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2010).