Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth
“Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.”
Like all claims surrounding Mary, the mother of Jesus, they begin and end in her son Jesus. This is quite true for Mary’s title as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
There is no doubt or dispute among Christians of any tradition that Jesus Christ is King. When sent before Pilate before his crucifixion and death, Jesus was asked by Pilate if he was a king. Jesus’ response makes clear that his kingdom is no mere earthly kingdom but is found wherever truth reigns (see John 18:33-38). In many other places throughout the Gospels, Jesus preaches his kingdom. Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom teaches us about the kingdom’s nature, its laws, and where it is to be found.
The main aim of this article is not to catalogue every detail of the Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of Heaven depending on which Gospel one is reading). Rather, my hope here is to show why Mary is truly the Queen of Jesus’ Kingdom, how the Queenship of Mary flows directly from Jesus role as King, and that this was intended by God from the inception of His earthly kingdom in the Old Testament.
We begin by exploring how Israel understood its royal leaders at the time of King David and King Solomon. After King David died and passed the kingship to his son Solomon, we read:
“So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. The king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right (1 Kings 2:19-25).
Bathsheba sitting on a throne at the right side of King Solomon is a sign of exaltation and authority. The person who sits at the right hand of a king is second in power and authority only to the king himself. We can contrast Bathsheba’s exalted status with her posture toward her husband King David just a short time before.
“So Bathsheba went to the king in his room. The king was very old; Abishag the Shunammite was attending the king. Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king” (1 Kings 1:15-16).
And again we read:
“King David answered, ‘Summon Bathsheba to me.’ So she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. The king swore, saying, ‘As the LORD lives, who has saved my life from every adversity, as I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so will I do this day.’ Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground, and did obeisance to the king, and said, ‘May my lord King David live forever'” (1 Kings 1:28-31)!
The difference in posture of Bathsheba toward the two kings is significant. With her husband David, Bathsheba bowed low out of deep respect to the king. However, it was King Solomon who bowed low to Bathsheba and placed her at his right hand.
The role of the Queen mother is explicitly mentioned later in 1 Kings when King Asa removed his mother Maacah from her office because she was committing idolatry (see 1 Kings 15:9-15).
So where is Mary the Mother of Jesus mentioned as Queen in sacred scripture? Again, we must employ typology and apply this to our understanding of Mary’s role in Jesus’ kingdom. We read in the Book of Revelation:
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. . . . .And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God” (Revelation 11:19-12:1,5-6a).
We have already detailed Mary as the New Ark of the New Covenant, which is associated in this passage from Revelation with the woman clothed clothed with the sun and a crown of twelve stars on her head. It is also clear in this passage that the son the woman gives birth to is destined to be a king who will rule all nations with his rod of iron, and who sits upon his throne. Although not named, Jesus is clearly who is being referenced as the child.
In the Gospels, Jesus was asked by the mother of James and John if they could sit, one at his right and one at his left, in his kingdom. Jesus replied:
“‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the chalice that I am to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘You will drink my chalice, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’ And when the Ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'” (Matthew 20:22-28).
We have already shown that it was the Queen Mother who sat at the right hand of the King of Israel. Jesus does not explicitly state his mother in this passage, but rather describes the virtues of those who are great in his kingdom. Mary in her humble yes to the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38) certainly fulfills all these requirements!
Mary’s Queenship, like all things concerning her, cannot be separated from her maternity. Her union with her son Jesus is the source of her dignity, majesty, and exalted status. And truthfully, this is no different than any disciple of Jesus at any point in history. The closer in union each of one us is with our Lord Jesus, the greater our status and authority will be in his kingdom. But make no mistake, the rules of his kingdom hold firm for all of us, namely:
- That the last will be first (Mark 10:31)
- We must lose our life in order to find it (Luke 18:18–30)
- We must pick up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24)
- We must be as children to gain entry (Matthew 18:1-4)
Mary lived all these things and more in her life. We close with the words of her song of praise, The Magnificat, which each loving disciple should seek to model in every moment:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”