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You've probably seen this lady before. She's the one in your neighbor's yard and tattooed on some hurly-burly's arm. You might have even heard talk of a miraculous appearance of her image. Being Jesus's mom really does wonders for a woman.
We have Luke to thank for making Mary a star.
Think about it. In Matthew's account of Jesus's birth, pride of place is given to Mary's fiancé, Joseph. The angel appears to him, and Mary receives little more than an honorable mention (Matthew 1:18-2:23).
In Luke, their roles are completely reversed. Joseph's ancestry is important—it goes all the way back to king David, the patriarchs, Adam, and, that's right, God (1:27; 3:23-38). But Mary gets all the good plot points:
In some forms of Christianity, Mary has achieved an almost divine (or at times totally divine) persona. This is partially thanks to Luke's focus on her, but he does include some very human touches that underline that she really is mortal—just like us.
Mary gets a pretty cold exit in Luke's gospel. When Jesus hears that she and her sons want to see him, Jesus redefines his family as "those who hear the word of God and do it" (8:21). Sorry, Mom, but blood-ties just won't cut it.
What gives? Why this harsh final cameo for Mary? And why is her role in culture so enduring despite it?