The Incarnation of Jesus is a reminder that the unborn are people too, and all of us have great value in God’s eyes.
“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:39-45
These verses are part of Luke’s larger discussion of the Incarnation of the Son of God. It offers us a terrific glimpse of the biblical affirmation of the personhood of the unborn. The bigger context to the passage just cited is Luke 1:26-56. In it we read about three important things: the foretelling of the birth of Jesus; the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth; and Mary’s song.
When Mary visits her relative Elizabeth she is perhaps only several weeks pregnant with Jesus, yet John leaps in recognition of him—bearing witness to the coming Messiah (v. 41). And this truth is repeated in verse 44. The obvious reality here is that mere clumps of cells or blobs of tissue do not leap for joy.
As Charles Swindoll rightly states, Luke mentions that “what was being formed in Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in fact ‘the holy offspring’ (Luke 1:35), not mere ‘fetal tissue’.” Or as R.C. Sproul has remarked, “however we evaluate this incident, one thing is certain: John the Baptist was an unborn child who manifested cognition and joy.”
Many other biblical passages can be mentioned here, all of which demonstrate the truth that the unborn are actual persons and that personhood is clearly assumed of those not yet born. But the significance of this passage cannot be overstated.
The significance of the Incarnation can never be underestimated by the Christian. In a discussion on abortion and the Incarnation, Christian bioethicist Gilbert Meilaender reminds us that this is not just a doctrinal teaching:
“Thus, for Christian teaching and imagination, however great or limited our capacities, however momentous or insignificant our achievements, we are all—in Paul Ramsey’s suggestive phrase—‘fellow fetuses.’ Before God we have no claims or achievements of which to boast, and we can stand with confidence before God only because the whole of our life has been taken up into the death and resurrection of Jesus. We have, therefore, good theological reason to affirm the continuity of life from its earliest beginnings to its last breath.”
This is exactly right. Being made in God’s image, we all have supreme worth, not based on what we do but who we are. This is not just the stuff of important theological truth, but the amazing moment of one unborn baby recognising another unborn baby, and the greater purposes of God found in that event.
Prayer Lord, we thank You that we all have tremendous worth because you are our Creator and—for those who come to you in faith and repentance—our Redeemer. We all have inherent dignity and value because we are your creation, and this value is there from the moment of conception.
Prayer Points for October 2020
1. Pray for a Breakthrough for LIFE, specifically an end to abortion and euthanasia in our nation. Exodus 20:13
2. Pray for a Breakthrough for INDIGENOUS LIFE, specifically an end to high youth suicide and premature death due to ill health. 3 John 1:2
3. Pray for new POLITICIANS for LIFE, especially pray for the upcoming elections in Queensland (31st October), ACT (17th October) + USA (3 November) & New Zealand (17 October). Proverbs 29:2
4. Pray for the Revitalisation of SPIRITUAL LIFE, namely repentance, renewal & transformation, that our nation might return to God. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Bill Muehlenberg is a prolific author, and a much sought-after media commentator; he has been featured on most Australian television and radio current affairs programs. Bill teaches ethics, apologetics and theology at several Melbourne Bible Colleges. He has his own blog, CultureWatch, which features Christian commentary on the issues of the day.
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