Why did Jesus call his mother woman, not mother? The Bible identifies at least two instances at which Jesus called his mother woman, not mother. One is at the wedding at Cana and the other at the Cross before giving up his spirit.
Before we proceed, let me clarify that my explanation is based on the assumption that ‘woman’ is the actual translation of the whatever word Jesus spoke in Aramaic.
Was he disrespectful to his mother by calling her woman? I don’t think so. One of the commandments of God is to respect one’s father and mother. The author of the command wouldn’t disrespect his mother.
So, why did Jesus call his mother ‘woman’, not mother? Was Jesus implying something else? Probably yes.
Did Jesus call his mother woman because she was the ‘woman’ foretold in Genesis?
To understand this, we have to visit the time of creation, the book of Genesis. After the fall, God promised the salvation of humanity through the seed of a woman. God said to the serpent:
‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15; New American Standard Bible)
By calling his mother ‘woman’ Jesus perhaps was implying that Mary was the woman foretold in the book of Genesis. Jesus was the seed of the woman, who would crush the head of the serpent. If this explanation is correct, then Jesus was exalting his mother, not insulting her.
The second time Jesus called his mother ‘woman’ was at the cross.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19: 25-27)
Once again, Jesus perhaps was reiterating that Mary was the woman foretold in Genesis. Now the time has come, and her seed is finishing off his mission for the salvation of humanity.
Denominational barriers and the mother of Jesus
Some of you may accept this explanation and others may scoff at me. If you are a Catholic, I have just earned your accolades, and if you are a Protestant, I am doomed. It is a sad fact that Christian denominations hate each other with a passion. Do not let denominational doctrines blind the facts.
You see, if you believe Jesus is God, then Mary is the mother of God. There is no need to twist this fact, and there is no need to find Bible verses to disprove this. I believe Jesus is God, and to me Mary is the mother of God. Whether you agree or not, according to God, Mary was ‘blessed among women’. That was how the angel greeted Mary.
If Jesus had no problems in identifying his mother as the woman foretold in Genesis, and if the angel had no problem in greeting her as the ‘blessed among women’, I have no problem in accepting her as the way Jesus and the angel accepted her.