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   Why Did Jesus Call His Mother 'Woman'?

Copyright 1994 - 2010 Endtime Prophecy Net

Published On : July 29, 2002

Last Updated : March 21, 2008

Introduction, Search The Scriptures, Turning Water Into Wine
God's Greater Family, Adopted Sons And Daughters, Precedence
Of Spiritual Family, Families Divided By Christ, Jesus' Love
For His Mother Mary, The Adopted Son, Mary's Grief And Joy,
The Other Mary, Jesus' Brothers, Mary's Activities Following
The Ascension, Warning Concerning Mary Worship, Jesus Is Our
Only Mediator, We Are Bought With A Price, Final Conclusions

Some time ago, someone sent me a piece of email in which the
question was asked:

Why did Jesus call his mother "woman"?

To express it more completely, the underlying thought in
this person's question was really:

Why did Jesus address Mary as "woman", instead of as
"mother"? Was this showing disrespect for her?

If this were indeed the case, (which I will hopefully prove
it is not), then Jesus, who Himself tells us in Matthew 5:17
that He came to fulfill, or complete, the Mosaic Law, would
have been doing something which was totally contrary to the
Law; because it repeatedly states:

"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long
upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."
Exodus 20:12, KJV

As I have stated a few times before in my articles, there
are instances when I simply don't know how to respond to a
certain question. Sometimes, this is because the question
has never been presented to me before, and thus I have never
been forced to give any thought to that particular subject.
In such cases, my natural reaction is to pray in my heart,
and then to begin searching the Scriptures in order to find
a valid response to the question. While our human thoughts
may sometimes lead us into error, a diligent study of God's
Word will eventually, and always, lead us to the truth. As
Jesus Himself said, and as the Apostle Paul would later be
inspired to write to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy:

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."
John 17:17, KJV

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV

Quite often, once I begin to give my attention to a
particular matter, certain verses will begin to enter my
head. We Christians refer to this kind of experience as
listening to the "Voice of the Spirit". As Jesus stated in
the Gospel of John:

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father
will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and
bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said
unto you."
John 14:26, KJV

So again, quite often, the Voice of the Holy Spirit will
provide me with just the right answer that I, and my
readers, both need. Such is the case with this current
question. I hope that you will be satisfied with my
response. If not, feel free to let me know about it by
either sending me an email, or by posting on our Endtime
Prophecy Org Messageboard.

One clear example where Jesus refers to his mother, Mary, as
"woman", is found in John chapter two, where we witness the
Lord performing His very first recorded public miracle, in
Cana of Galilee, by converting plain drinking water into
wine. After His mother presents the problem to Him, that is,
a shortage of wine, Jesus responds to her:

". . . Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not
yet come."
John 2:4b, KJV

In saying this, my impression is that Jesus may have been
testing His mother's faith, as He likewise did with other
people prior to healing them of a certain affliction. This
seems to be confirmed by the fact that, even though He had
just told Mary that His time to be revealed to Israel as the
Messiah was not yet come, He went ahead and performed the

In the previous verse, the word "woman" is translated from
the Greek work "'gune". Pronounced goo-nay', it means a
woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a widow,
a wife, or a betrothed woman.

Obviously, Jesus loved His mother, Mary, very much; so why
does He refer to her as "woman", instead of calling her
"mother", which would surely have been more indicative of
His personal love and respect for her?

Upon reading other Scriptures, we come to understand that,
being the Son of God, who had come to the Earth in order to
fulfill a very specific purpose, that is, to complete God's
Plan of Salvation and Redemption, Jesus had a much greater
vision; that is, He had a vision for His Father's worldwide
Spiritual Family. This family is comprised of the billions
of souls, who throughout time, have come to accept Jesus as
Lord and Savior; thus fulfilling the Will of God in their
lives, by becoming the adopted sons and daughters of God.
This is a subject which I discuss more fully in the series
"Is Jesus Really The Son Of God?". For the time being,
however, please consider the following verses:

"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one
which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have
everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:40, KJV

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to
become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his
John 1:12, KJV

"And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this
world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall
be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the
resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in
marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal
unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the
children of the resurrection."
Luke 20:34-36, KJV

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to
fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby
we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with
our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if
children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with
Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be
also glorified together."
Romans 8:15-17, KJV

"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ
Galatians 3:26, KJV

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by
Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of
his will,"
Ephesians 1:5, KJV

This radical concept of a worldwide Spiritual Family of God
taking precedence over individual human families is further
substantiated by the following additional verses found in
the New Testament. It is interesting to note, that in the
first group of verses, the Lord's mother is again the topic
of the conversation:

"Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren
stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered
and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who
are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his
disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For
whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven,
the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."
Matthew 12:47-50, KJV

"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but
fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of
Ephesians 2:19, KJV

As can be seen then, the private human family is required to
take second place to God's "Universal Family", which has
been founded upon the Precious Blood of His own dear Son.
While it may be difficult for some people to understand, it
may also be for this very same reason, that the Lord also
made the following startling remarks found in the Gospels:

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not
to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at
variance against his father, and the daughter against her
mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that
loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me:
and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not
worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and
followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
Matthew 10:34-38, KJV

"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or
sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or
lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and
shall inherit everlasting life."
Matthew 19:29, KJV

"Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the
father the son; and children shall rise up against their
parents, and shall cause them to be put to death."
Mark 13:12, KJV

"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell
you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there
shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and
two against three. The father shall be divided against the
son, and the son against the father; the mother against the
daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in
law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law
against her mother in law."
Luke 12:51-53, KJV

The previous verses make it quite clear, that in matters of
faith and allegiance, our Heavenly Father expects each of
His born-again children to be true to Him, as well as to our
Universal Spiritual Family, first; even above our loyalty to
our flesh families. In fact, Jesus makes it very clear, that
in some cases, our very own families will literally fight
against us, because of our faith in Him. In the case of the
first Jewish Disciples, they were literally disowned, and
pronounced "dead" by their parents, if they embraced the
young, new Christian faith. Have we not seen this very same
thing occurring in our own time as well, in both Jewish and
Gentile families alike? Some parents would prefer that their
children were strung out on drugs, rather than have them
embrace Christianity. It is truly a sad, blind world in
which we live.

In spite of the fact that Jesus taught such strong doctrine,
and in spite of the fact that He had a far-reaching vision
for the Universal Family of God, or "household of God" as
Paul calls it, nevertheless, one of His final actions prior
to His death on the Cross, was to pronounce something which
would fully reveal His deep love and concern for His own
dear mother, Mary.

You see, from the very moment that Jesus was conceived in
His mother's womb, God knew that Mary was destined to face a
life filled not only with intense joy, but also with intense
personal suffering, as her son went about fulfilling His
Divine Mission. It is for this reason that God inspired the
old man Simeon to say the following to her in the Temple,
eight days after Jesus had been born:

"(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that
the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Luke 2:35, KJV

Some thirty-three years later, just prior to a Roman spear
being thrust into His own side, as He hung on the Cross
dying for the sins of the world, in a symbolic sense, Jesus
finally removed the sword from His mother's sad heart. While
Mary was temporarily losing her physical son, in order that
He might fulfill His Father's Will, Jesus did not want her
to be left alone; He wanted to fill the aching void in her
heart. Thus it is that He spoke the following words to Mary,
and to the young disciple who was standing next to her at
the foot of the Cross, who many Christians assume was the
young disciple John:

". . . Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple,
Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her
unto his own home."
John 19:26b-27, KJV

Here again, we see Jesus addressing his mother as "woman";
yet it is very plain to see that rather than being intended
to express disrespect towards Mary, it is used to express
His deepest love and compassion for her. That love is fully
manifested by His giving her another son to take His place:
the young disciple John. It is because of this great love
and compassion which Jesus bestowed upon her, that Mary was
probably able to endure her grief; and who knows; perhaps
deep in her heart, in spite of her great sorrow, she also
felt a certain degree of personal satisfaction; knowing that
she had played an integral part in helping to fulfill God's
Will for the ultimate benefit of all of humanity.

But Mary's grief was indeed very short-lived; because only
three days later, her deep sorrow was converted into joy
unspeakable, when she learned of the Risen Saviour. In
describing Mary's wonderful encounter with her risen son,
the Apostle Matthew describes her as "the other Mary". This
seems to be a reference to something he said ten verses
earlier where he describes her as "Mary the mother of James
and Joses". As I point out in the article "The Family Life
Of Jesus Christ", we also know from the Gospels of Matthew
and Mark, that Jesus had four brothers, and at least two
sisters. Two of those brothers were named James and Joses.

Thus, putting all of the following verses together, we are
given the impression that not only was Mary present at her
son's Crucifixion, but that also, along with Mary Magdalene,
she was one of the very first people to see Jesus following
His victory over death; and how appropriate indeed:

"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called
Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and
Matthew 13:55, KJV

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of
James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his
sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."
Mark 6:3, KJV

"And many women were there beholding afar off, which
followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among
which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and
Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children."
Matthew 27:55-56, KJV

"In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the
first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other
Mary to see the sepulchre."
Matthew 28:1, KJV

Following the Lord's Ascension to Heaven, described for us
in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, we discover that,
in spite of her advancing age, Mary apparently continued to
participate to some degree in the ministry of the Apostles,
first begun by her son. The Apostle Luke writes for us:

"Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called
Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And
when they were come in, they went up into an upper room,
where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew,
Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son
of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of
James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and
supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus,
and with his brethren."
Acts 1:12-14, KJV

Thus, truly, through both unimaginable pain, and joy beyond
all measure, Mary was indeed blessed above all women who
have ever lived on the face of the Earth. To this day, she
remains for us an excellent example of love, dedication and
perseverance. Yet, as I also point out in such articles as
"Mary Worship, Roman Catholicism And Christianity", we must
also guard ourselves against setting her up as an idol, or
worse yet, referring to her as some sort of "Co-Redemptress"
or "Co-Mediatrix", as the Roman Catholics have erroneously
done. Mary was undoubtedly a wonderful woman, to have been
chosen by God to be His vessel; yet still, we must remember
that she was only a woman like any other. She was a fellow
human being born in sin; and thus, in no way can she merit
by her own works, the title of mediator between God and man.
That title is reserved alone for the Lord Jesus Christ, as
we are told by the Apostle Paul:

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus;"
1 Timothy 2:5, KJV

Jesus paid for our Salvation with His Blood; therefore, He
alone is our Eternal High Priest and Advocate before the
Throne of the Father in the Heavenly Courts. Let us not
forget that. As we are told in the Scriptures:

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy
Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not
your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify
God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV

"Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."
1 Corinthians 7:23, KJV

"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but
to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:28, KJV

"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down
his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the
1 John 3:16, KJV

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8, KJV

By believing the Angel's words, and accepting her son as the
Saviour of the world, Mary became a part of God's greater
Family; His Spiritual Family, His Divine Household, which is
comprised of born-again believers the world over. This great
family knows no genetic boundaries, or national borders; for
we are all one in Christ Jesus, because we are each covered
by His Blood.

So in conclusion, this may be why Jesus constantly referred
to Mary as "woman", and not as "mother" in the Scriptures;
because while He loved her dearly, He viewed her as a part
of God's greater Universal Family. With these words I am
going to bring another article to a close. I pray that it
has been a blessing and an inspiration in your life.

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