Christmas is the season we celebrate the incarnation of the most high God. When God came to dwell with humans as a human.
The biblical narratives from the Old Testament (Genesis 3:15 & Isaiah 7:14; Matt.1:23) tell of God’s promise to effect the redemption of humans through a woman. In Genesis 3:15, we are told,
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
This verse, which is known in most theological circles as the protoevangelium is the hermeneutical key for understanding the rest of the Bible. Everything else we read in the Scriptures plays out to demonstrate both the need and the fulfillment of this verse.
In light of this, we see that God restored the place of woman by going through the one whom the serpent deceived…by going through woman, whom the serpent thought it’d successfully felled, God, in His wisdom wove a different story – the story of a woman who surrendered to God’s will, thus facilitating God’s redemption of humankind through her.
Whom sin and redemption came through matters. This is why the advocates of male-only leadership hold Genesis 3 against women.
Well, to do so would mean to ignore Luke 1 & 2, the story of a new beginning – the paving of a new way of being human, and therefore, a new way of being woman
Those who argue against the leadership of women have been prone to focus on Genesis 3:1-7 and 1 Timothy 2:14 “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” to say women’s leadership cannot and should not be trusted because the first time women led, it led to sin.
Because the Bible does not consist of only Genesis 3:1-8, but also Genesis 3:15 and Luke and the Gospels and the Epistles, we must also consider how God remade woman in Mary, and so, remade all humans through Jesus.
Although the first woman led wrongly and it resulted in sin, the last woman didn’t.
Whereas the first woman disobeyed God because of personal pride, the last woman surrendered to God at the cost of personal shame. Foregoing personal pride, she put her reputation on the line in order to obey God. And what is it the Bible says about those who abase themselves? Does it not say that God exalts the humble and debases the proud? Is this not the testimony we find in Mary’s Song in Luke 1:46b-55, the famous Magnificat?
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Can we read the Bible cohesively and in light of the protoevangelium and miss this important remaking of woman and all mankind?
Therefore, reading the Scriptures cohesively, I refer to Mary as the ‘last woman’ in the same way that Apostle Paul refers to Jesus as the last Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45 (although it might also be argued that the ‘Adam’ referenced by Paul in this verse is the generic ‘adam,’ i.e., human, which makes sense and paves the way for theological argument that Jesus was the ‘true human,’ the ‘true adam,’ and he shows us the way to be ‘truly human’).
It is in this new humanity that we find the connection between Mary as the ‘new human woman’ whose activities found favor with God and whose obedience resulted in her intimate connection with the Redeemer Son, and fulfilled the promise of Genesis 3:15.
According to this, a new kind of woman is found in Mary and in her connection to and with Jesus. Look at the characteristics of this new woman!
- A woman who leads and leads aright – by obediently committing herself to God’s desires in a way that the first woman didn’t
- A woman who’s no longer under the curse of Genesis 3:16b to be ruled over by her husband, because the promise of Genesis 3:15 has been fulfilled, effectively breaking the curse (or smashing the patriarchy as some would like to say!) restoring her to coleadership with the other human, man.
As such, as we see the story of Mary unfold, we see this co-leadership restored in the way that humanity learned to heed and follow God via Mary’s actions.
We see this in God’s affirming Mary’s taking the lead to obey and follow Him in three clear examples:
Example 1. Just as the first man followed the lead of the first woman, we see Joseph following Mary’s lead because God told him to: “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt.1:20c). Where Mary has gone, is boldly before the LORD, says the angel. Follow her there! [As such we can see that it is not that God is against women leading, any more than He’s against men leading. Rather, God wants both men and women who are obedient to Him to lead. I believe that this parallel to the Genesis 3 account is significant for understanding God’s heart towards men and women in marital, family and ecclesiastical matters. God is not against women who lead. Leadership in and of itself is not what is bad. Rather it is what a person leads others into that is either good or bad and in this case, we see God encouraging Mary’s husband to follow Mary’s lead and submit to the Holy Spirit in her.
Example 2. Wise men from the East followed because they saw the prophecy of Virgin giving birth had been fulfilled, ““Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matt.2:2b-c). Mary’s obedience led to Jesus’ birth and God led wise men to worship him as Lord, because Mary set the pace to let the Lord that was to be visibly worshiped, come through her. No Mary, no Jesus, no Lord for the wise men to worship! These men were sent to affirm what Mary had believed: that the Redeemer of Israel was born through her. Their actions followed Mary’s obedience. Mary first led humans to worship Jesus!
Example 3. Jesus’ disciples followed Mary’s directive because she at the time, she alone knew her son was not bound by natural laws and could do anything. Because she knew the power behind God’s words, and just as she yielded and followed those words with ““I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Lk. 1:38), so she now taught Jesus’ disciples to yield to the words that came from the Son of God. This pattern would be a significant trait of Jesus’ disciples, ““If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (Jn.8:31). A woman first taught Jesus’ disciples to listen to and obey him, no matter how ridiculous the commands sound. She should know, after all she was the first to yield to the most incredulous process ever actuated upon humans via the spoken words.
Mary, represents the new woman in Jesus Christ – the one who acts out of total surrender and obedience to God, the way Adam and Eve couldn’t – a woman who leads others to obey and worship God.
When Mary led…a new kind of woman was born….
When Mary led…Christmas happened,
When Mary led…the Wise Men traveled from afar to seek and worship Jesus,
When Mary led…water was turned into wine!
When Mary led…the patriarchy of Genesis 3:16 was crushed!
Hallelujah, glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace with all humans with whom He is pleased!