The (unseen) children of Christmas

The value of pre-born life is foundational to Christmas, just as protecting children is an essential of the Gospel Jesus preached. While Christmas celebrations focus on the manger, the miracle of the Incarnation did not happen in Bethlehem. As Mary greets Elizabeth, the baby leaps in Elizabeth's wombThe "Word became flesh" not at the time of the virgin birth, but when Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb, as heralded by the angel Gabriel.

In response to Gabriel's announcement, Mary hurried to the home of her relative Elizabeth, who was in the midst of her own miraculous pregnancy, as Gabriel had also announced. When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the presence of Jesus (deep within Mary's womb) inspired preborn John the Baptist to leap for joy in Elizabeth's womb.

While this amazing interaction between two preborn babies happened in the midst of Elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy, Mary must have been in the earliest days of her pregnancy (as evidenced by her rush to see Elizabeth after Gabriel's pre-conception announcement). At that stage, the medical term for the body of our Lord Jesus Christ would be "blastocyst" or  "embryo," while the leaping body of John the Baptist would be called a "fetus."

The value of human life before birth is key to the Biblical account of what we call Christmas. The Greek word which refers to a preborn baby in Luke 1:41 is the exact same word found in Luke 2:12, referring to baby Jesus in the manger. One was unseen, but the other was seen.

As an adult, Jesus emphasized the priority of receiving and protecting children, and the severe penalties deserved by any who would harm children. He said a good shepherd will even neglect his other sheep to rescue one child, because it is not God's will "that one of these little ones should perish." (Note that "fetus" is Latin for "little one.")

Those resounding words found in Matthew 18:14 led Jesus into His primary discussion of church discipline. Why? Coupled with scriptures like Ezekiel 23:36-39 and Jeremiah 7:9-11, the formerly unseen relevance is palpable, as is the incontrovertible conclusion that the crisis faced by "little ones" in our day is now the crisis of the Body of Christ, the Church. (To unveil the meaning of this paragraph, read the scriptures referenced here.)

Mary quietly pondered what she witnessed as the mother of Jesus. Let us then solemnly ponder God's plan for the Church of Jesus Christ in relation to His unseen "little ones" today.

Scriptures to ponder:
Luke 1:5-2:40
John 1:1-14
Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew 18
Ezekiel 16
Ezekiel 23
Jeremiah 7
Matthew 25:40,45
1 Corinthians 5:11-13,6:18-20
Galatians 5:13-21
1 John 3:4-15

Author: Tim Palmquist