“The baby ‘leaped’ in her womb”

If ever there was a pro-life story, it’s Christmas. I’m talking about the real Christmas story – the one about the glorious birth of a baby wrapped in “swaddling” clothes and laid in a manger. A baby whose task from day one was to save the world by atoning for the sins of all mankind.

In Christmas, we celebrate one truly miraculous life-giving event that would commence the ultimate life-saving mission.

But let’s back up a moment to consider the lead-up to that grand event. Remember how Mary, the mother of Jesus, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth soon after the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would soon conceive and give birth to a son (Luke, Chapter 1). Elizabeth had also conceived a child, who would later be called John the Baptist. It’s very possible that Jesus would have already been conceived in Mary’s womb when she showed up to Elizabeth’s house that day.  From verse 41, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The baby leaped in her womb.

This is quite an interesting detail for Luke to point out in a story that would be read by millions for millennia. In particular, notice how the unborn child in the womb is acknowledged as a “baby”, i.e. a person. Notice also how the baby responded to the mother of Jesus, and quite possibly to Jesus himself, independently and seemingly even self-consciously, i.e. not merely a “blob of cells.”

And notice also that in the case of both Mary and Elizabeth, it was God Himself who had ordained both John the Baptist and Jesus to come into the world beginning with their “conception” in a womb.

It is abundantly clear when their lives began and that they were every bit as significant at every point in their development. If there was any uncertainty about these questions, the lead-up to the first Christmas cleared it up for us.

Above all else, notice in this story the response to the arrival of the promised Messiah – even as He was still in Mary’s womb or soon to be there – not just by some ordinary person, but by an unborn baby.     

Verses 43-44: “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.”

The baby in her womb leaped for joy.

That’s quite a response. No doubt it was the greatest expression of joy the baby could muster for such a grand occasion. It does make me wonder: when was the last time I leaped for joy at the arrival of the “Lord” Jesus into the world? And does my response to the Christ child adequately reflect the magnificence and joyousness of the occasion? It’s certainly something worth thinking about.

One thing is evident: there is much we could stand to learn from babies still in the womb.