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I have been replaying Luke 1:48 and Luke 11:27-28 in my mind. Something doesn't make sense here. Luke 1:48 is the part of Mary's song where Mary announces that all successive generations will call her blessed because of her son Jesus. Then, in Luke 11:27-28, when Jesus is a grown man in his ministry, a woman tells him that his mother is blessed for carrying him in the womb and nursing him, which ironically seems to allude to what Mary says earlier, but Jesus replies, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." Apparently, Jesus is not concerned with his own pedigree, and if that is the case, does this mean that he rejects Mary's happiness? What's going on here?

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2 Answers 2

Jesus' answer emphasizes what is more important. It is more important that a person hear the word of God and obey it than to be chosen by God for some special task. Not everyone will be chosen for a special position, but anyone can choose to obey God.

Jesus puts things regarding (his own) family into perspective: they are not as important as seeking the kingdom of God. When his family shows up, seemingly to talk some sense into him, Jesus tells the crowd:

Matthew 12:50 (NASB) (also Mk 3:35)
"For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother."

Regarding familial relationships and the call of God, he says:

Luke 12:51,53 (NASB)
"Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; ... They will be divided, father against son and son against father, ..."

Nothing is more important than responding to God's call.

I don't think it's necessary to conclude that Jesus rejects his mother's happiness or her elevated position. He only tells the rest of us: don't wish you were her; instead, obey God.

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A different interpretation:

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth said to Mary -

"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." (Luke 1:45)

The Holy Spirit connects Mary's blessedness with the fact that she believed in God's word. Jesus says the same thing -

"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:28)

It seems to me that according to Jesus, Mary's blessedness doesn't proceed from the fact that she gave him birth, but from her faith in the word of God. If we want to be blessed, we must have faith in God's word and also obey it, just like Mary. Surely one is blessed if one gives birth to God's Son, but one is more blessed if he/she believes in God's word and keeps it.

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That interpretation sounds plausible, but that is not the impression I got from reading DK Publishing's book, The Illustrated Bible Story By Story. In fact, I have written a separate question just for that book here. In other words, I think Mary's blessedness is really based on her birth to her son, because that's indicative of her obedience to God the Father. –  Double U Feb 20 '14 at 3:19
It is true that Mary is blessed by virtue of the fact that she gave birth to Jesus, but the Biblical account seems to indicate that her blessedness proceeds from the moment of her faith. –  LoveTheFaith Feb 20 '14 at 3:25

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