Does Mary Intercede for Christians?
It has been argued that “Mary is the creature closest to God. Moreover, while Christ is the mediator of all grace between God and creation, Mary is the mediator of all grace between Christ and humanity. Consequently, Mary is a powerful intercessor for all who turn to her” (see Zoltan, 1994, emp. added). The Bible clearly teaches that Mary is not Deity and should not be worshipped as such (see Pinedo, 2009). If she is not Deity, is she the closest human being to Deity? Does she play an active role in heaven, interceding for individual Christians? Does she make intercession for us in prayer or have an effect on our salvation?
Mary is no closer to God than any other person, past or present.
When referring to Deity, the Bible mentions only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; cf. Matthew 3:16-17; John 10:30; 17:21; Acts 5:3-4). Mary is never mentioned in that context. Further, the heaven where God and His angels reside (Deuteronomy 10:14; 26:15; 1 Kings 8:27,30) is not yet inhabited by human beings. Jesus said: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man” (John 3:13, emp. added). These words represent the truth about all the people who have left this world (including Mary). No one is in heaven because heaven is reserved for all faithful servants of God since time began (cf. John 14:1-3). Not until after the Second Coming of Christ and the final Judgment will it become home for the faithful, both living and dead (Matthew 25:31-46;
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The idea that Mary occupies a special place in heaven, close to the Son, is a tradition. It shows a lack of understanding concerning biblical teachings on the afterlife. In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus explained that the dead (saved and lost) go to a place called “hades” (16:23, Hebrew sheol)—a spiritual waiting place that separates the consolation of the righteous (referred to as “paradise,” cf. Luke 23:43) from the torment of the wicked. In hades, the righteous begin to taste part of the joy that awaits them in eternity, while the wicked begin to taste part of the suffering that awaits them. Hades is not the dwelling place of God; God dwells in heaven. Mary, along with Abraham and other faithful servants from the past, is waiting in hades until its dead are delivered up, when the Lord returns to judge each man and woman according to his or her works (Revelation 20:13). In this spiritual realm that precedes heaven, there is nothing that those who are there can do for those who are here (Luke 16:27-31).
The gift of intercession was not given to Mary.
Catholics have given the title of “Intercessor for the Saints” to Mary, although nowhere in the Bible is it applied to her. “Intercession” means “seeking the presence and hearing of God on behalf of others” (Vine, 1966, 2:267). There are only two areas in which Christians need intercession: salvation and prayers. If Mary is now, or ever has been, involved as “Intercessor for the Saints,” there should be ample evidence in Scripture.
Concerning salvation, the apostle Peter clearly stated that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NASB). Of course, he was referring to Jesus Christ. Paul wrote: “[T]here is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The Hebrews writer added: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He [Jesus] always lives to make intercession for them” (7:25). Jesus is the one and only Mediator (Intercessor) between God and Man, and He lives to continually intercede for those who come to God.
But what about prayer? Does Mary intercede in the prayers of Christians? No, she does not. This intercession also belongs to Jesus. When teaching His disciples to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9), Jesus did not teach them to pray to (or through) Mary. And yet, Catholicism created a prayer—the “Hail Mary”—to include the words “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death.” In John 14:13-14, Jesus declared: “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (cf. John 16:24). Jesus is the only One Who can mediate or intercede in our prayers, since “[a]ll things that the Father has are [His]” (John 16:15). If all things that the Father has are the Son’s, then what is left for Mary?
The prerogative of intercession supposedly given to Mary also is argued from the fact that she “interceded” before Jesus on behalf of a family at a wedding in Cana because the wine was running out during the celebration (John 2:2-3). This simple, solitary, tiny thread of argumentation, lost in a loom of confusion, has been misused extensively by the supporters of Marianism. By going to Jesus with a request for help, Mary was not intervening on behalf of anyone’s spiritual needs; she only reported the situation to Jesus. Moreover, consider Jesus’ response: “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?” (John 2:4). With these words, He emphasized that Mary’s concerns did not dictate His actions. Whatever He did in Cana that day would be according to God’s will, not because of human or motherly influences or desires.
If the situation recorded in John chapter two establishes Mary as the “Intercessor of the Saints,” what should we conclude from Matthew 8:5-13 and other passages that tell of similar circumstances? In Matthew chapter eight, a centurion “interceded” before Jesus for his servant who was in bed, paralyzed, and greatly tormented. Seeing the centurion’s faith, Jesus performed a miracle and cured the sick servant. Should we consider this centurion as the “Intercessor for the Paralytics, the Sick, and the Tormented”? Should any paralytic, or anyone suffering from physical or mental illness, pray to this man of great faith, asking him to intercede with God on their behalf? [The Bible further condemns the act of invoking the dead (cf. Deuteronomy 18:10-13; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14; Isaiah 8:19).] Neither this centurion, nor Abraham, nor Mary, nor anyone else—living or dead—can intercede before the throne of God in favor of the faithful Christian, except Jesus Christ Himself.
Mary, like all men and women, needed intercession.
In Luke 1:47, Mary raised her voice and declared: “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (emp. added). If she had a Savior, then she needed salvation. And, if she needed salvation, then she also needed the only Intercessor of salvation—Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:25). Therefore, Mary’s condition was no different from every human being before or after her. She sinned (Romans 3:23), and she needed the only Intercessor who could make peace between her and God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Colossians 1:20). Just as Jesus “interceded” on behalf of Mary before He died to make sure her physical needs were met (John 19:26-27), He interceded on her behalf to make sure her spiritual needs were met. Mary cannot intercede for any Christian since she, herself, needed intercession.
Finally, although Christians are commanded to pray for one another (1 Thessalonians 5:25; Hebrews 13:18; James 5:16), Jesus is our only Mediator in prayer. Through Him our prayers are answered.
Pinedo, Moisés (2009), “Is Mary the Mother of God?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240077.
Vine, W.E. (1966), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell).
Zoltan, Abraham (1994), “A Detailed Guide to Our Lady’s Rosary,” [On-line], URL: http://www.blessedtrinityorlando.org/rosary.html.