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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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3 Answers 3

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

Mary's blessedness is not from her being but from her belief (cf. Luke 1:45; Luke 1:48).

45And blessed is she who believed that there would beg a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

Do Luke 1:48 and Luke 11:27-28 contradict each other?

Luke 1:45-48 (ESV)

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”

28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Luke 11:27-28 (ESV)

The Greek word translated as "rather" is "μενοῦνγε" and it could mean either"no rather" or "nay but yea" or "more than" (source). The following translations reflect these meanings:

But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

Luke 11:28 (NASB)

Jesus replied, "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice."

Luke 11:28 (NLT)

In NASB, Jesus is saying that blessing Mary [in consanguinity] is not what brings blessing but rather, being a hearer and doer of the word is what brings blessing.

In NLT, Jesus is saying that what is "more blessed " is not those who bless Mary but those who are scripture hearers and doers (Luke 11:27-28).

Taking these passages with the Scriptures "as a whole", it shows that the reading of NASB is much accurate:

48But he (Jesus) replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers**?**”

49And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he (Jesus) said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!

50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 12:48-49 (ESV)

Luke 1:48 does not contradict Luke 11:27.Apparently, Jesus is not concerned with his own pedigree and this does not affect Mary's blessedness which is clearly evinced as coming from her faith not from her flesh:

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:45 (ESV)

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