There is a post circulating on Facebook right now having to do with the celebration of the news of Jesus – BEFORE His birth. In fact, I have seen that several of you who are avid readers of TBTB have shared it or commented on it to others. In this world, people are deeply divided on many, many issues – immigration, walls, fences, taxes, political parties and a host of other topics – not the least of which is abortion. This continues to be one of the hottest topics out there. When does a fetus become a “person?” Is there consciousness before birth?
So I thought it would be interesting to go into a little more detail and remind us that the first news of Jesus was, in fact, celebrated by a fetus – to be specific, the son of Mary’s friend (and relative) Elizabeth – an unborn child who would be named John (the Baptist), a cousin of Jesus. The story of this announcement is sometimes passed over over as we read the book of Luke. That’s because we focus on the larger story of the coming of the Savior and don’t dwell on the reaction of Elizabeth and her unborn son to the news that Mary shared with them.
To fill in some of the gaps for those of you who may not be familiar with the story, Elizabeth’s husband was Zechariah, a priest, who was visited by the angel Gabriel during one of the times that he was on duty at the temple. Zechariah was told that his prayer had been heard and that Elizabeth would bear him a son. Due to his initial unbelief at such a miracle, he was then struck dumb and was unable to speak until the birth of his son, nine months later.
Gabriel also shared with Zechariah that his son was to be named John and that he would go in advance of Jesus and bring people back to the Lord. He would abstain from fermented drink and would be filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth. Of course, Zechariah found this difficult to believe but everything came to pass as Gabriel had said.
Six months after this event, Mary was visited by Gabriel and told of the eventual birth of her Son, Jesus, who would save the world and whose kingdom would never end. Mary was skeptical at first, but believed Gabriel and then went to visit Elizabeth and share this news with her. At Mary’s revelation of her pregnancy to Elizabeth, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and the baby (fetus) in her womb leapt for joy.
Elizabeth immediately realized that Mary was the mother of the Savior and Mary then stayed with Elizabeth for three months until it was almost time for John to be born. So it is clear that Elizabeth’s unborn child was aware of what was happening and actually had a physical response to the news of the coming birth of Jesus.
Our verse for this evening is the reaction that the unborn baby John had when the news of Jesus was announced. The good doctor, Luke, tells us in Luke 1:41-44, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
My encouragement tonight is that the birth of Jesus was the best announcement that anyone could have heard in that God had made the decision that His Son would become fully human and remain fully divine. My prayer is that we would all leap for joy at the prospect of Jesus, His mission on earth and now in heaven as our advocate before the Father; and the promise of spending eternity with Him. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…