“The baby in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44).
That’s what Elizabeth said to Mary when they met.
Elizabeth’s baby was John the Baptist.
He evidently started his career early.
We know babies in the womb can see and hear and react to sounds and light. Consider a child in his mother’s womb in the latter stages of pregnancy. Even before birth, he learns to recognize the voice of his father and mother. Marlene has told me that when she was pregnant and sitting in church, when I started to preach, each one of our three boys would recognize my voice from inside the womb and begin to move around as soon as I started my sermon. This happened so regularly that it could not have been by chance. They knew my voice even though they did not know me.
It was the same way with John the Baptist.
His whole purpose in life was to point people to Jesus.
He came to prepare the way of the Lord.
He leaped for joy in his mother’s womb, meaning he did a kind of prenatal cartwheel that all pregnant mothers can understand.
This is more than natural effects at work. God filled Elizabeth with the Spirit, and her baby leaped within her for joy. Why should this surprise us? The God who can conceive Jesus within Mary’s womb can also cause John the Baptist to leap for joy inside Elizabeth’s womb. This miracle would have been a great consolation to Mary in her difficult circumstances. John was unaware of the meaning of his movement, yet his leaping was inspired by the Lord. The Holy Spirit was at work within him even before he was born.
Does Jesus seem far away to you?
Do you wonder if he understands what you are going through?
This passage shines a light on Christmas because it means our Lord was part of the human race from conception. He was born on Christmas, but his human life began nine months earlier. He was truly a Savior who became like us even before he was born.
The Lord we worship was once an embryo in Mary’s womb.
How weak, how frail the Savior appears!
How great a distance the Son must travel to enter our world!
He is truly Immanuel—God with us!
Lord Jesus, may I never take for granted the miracle of your entrance into our world. Amen.
Musical bonus: O Come, All Ye Faithful started as a Latin carol centuries ago. Frederick Oakley gave us the standard English translation in 1841. Let’s enjoy this beautiful rendition by Libera.