*[Luke 1:39-45] In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
The Lord and Giver of Life
This past Friday, the day before yesterday, was what day? It was a holiday. One of those smaller holidays on our church calendar which often gets passed by – and which I passed by this year, until a very fitting event in our nation happened on that same day.
This past Friday, June 24, was the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. The feast, the celebration, of the birthday of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was the forerunner – and the announcer – of Christ’s arrival. John the Baptist was conceived in the womb of old, barren Elizabeth – a relative of the Virgin Mary.
John the Baptist, while still in his mother’s womb, is the one who leapt for joy inside that womb when Jesus came near in the womb of His mother.*
Scripture shows us through baby-John the Baptist that a child is a child in the womb – because a child can even have faith and leap for joy at the Lord’s presence while in the womb. And Jesus, whose conception in Mary’s womb had just been announced “in those days” – no amount of weeks had passed [also Luke 1:36,56-57] – He is a person right away in Mary’s womb; she is already called “the mother of my Lord”.
This past Friday, on the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist, the Supreme Court in our nation overturned an old court case and has now made it possible to protect the lives of children, who are indeed children, in their mother’s womb. It was a good day to announce that decision.
Life in the womb is God’s business. God our Father, His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of human life. God the Father creates each life – body and soul. Jesus, on the Cross, shed His blood for and has redeemed every human life – body and soul. The Holy Spirit, through the means of Holy Baptism and by the Word of God, sanctifies – applies the forgiveness of sins to and makes holy to God – each life that mom and dad commit to His care.
The work of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the creation, redemption, and restoration of human lives – body and soul – starting as a single cell in a mother’s womb.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” [Psalm 139:13-14]
The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” [Jeremiah 1:5]
The proud and the wicked, “They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless” – “and they say, ‘The Lord does not see’” [Psalm 94:1-7].
The Lord is “the Author of Life” [Acts 3:15].
The Lord is the “Father of the fatherless; and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” [Psalm 68:5]
“The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.” [Psalm 146:9]
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.” [Isaiah 1:17]
God brings to ruin men who oppress and pressure women into discarding the lives of their children. God hates lies and brings to ruin those who murder and call it health. God brings to judgment all who kill. God condemns all who sacrifice the lives of their children.
And God commands that we not kill. And God commands what we are to do – He gathers us into His work of being life’s caretaker. I am to be caretaker of my neighbor’s bodily needs, including that of my littlest neighbor and his or her mother, whoever they may be.
[Luther’s Small Catechism] The Fifth Commandment: “You shall not murder” – What does this mean? “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.”
This begins with defending my neighbor’s very life and existence. It continues with caring for my neighbor’s health and welfare – in body and soul. We are not to harm. Therefore, we are to help.
This is God’s work, especially – especially – to protect the unwanted child from hands who would hurt it – to protect that life, because God does want what He alone created – and to care for women abandoned, left on their own.
The law of our land, in the past, forbade you and the civil rulers from protecting those lives. You were required, by an unjust court ruling, to let them be killed. It was unnatural and unjust. Now, God has given us something we, in truth, do not deserve – the freedom and ability to do what is right. To guard and protect life. To do God’s work.
Since you are free to do it, do you have any choice but to do it? Can we choose to not be part of God’s work? Not safely so.
You are people, in a free nation, who have voice and vote. Because of Fridays’ court ruling, you now are exceptionally free and able to use that voice and vote for the defense of your littlest neighbor.
It’s not just a hope anymore. It’s a reality. You can influence the laws of your state and nation – and elect rulers – who now can and will protect boys and girls in their mothers’ wombs. “Help and support in every physical need” – it begins where life begins.
God still cares for body and soul. He has created, redeemed, and forgives bodies and souls. Including yours. God has cared for you – for all who have failed to keep any of His commandments – including those who have broken the command, ‘You shall not murder’ – God has cared for each of you by giving His Son on the cross who, in His body, died for your sins.
For every guilty hand which has killed – either by what was done or by what was left undone; by action or inaction – for each guilty person, Jesus has died. His innocent hand was pierced for the guilty to forgive them. Sin, even the sin of murder, is forgiven by Christ’s shed blood. God cares for you by calling you to flee to Jesus where your sin and guilt is left behind.
Jesus’ blood was shed for sin. And Jesus laid down His life to redeem the lives of those who die. Jesus has conquered death. Jesus gives life to the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is stronger than what has been done to those children.
The Lord gathers each of you into the eternal benefits of His good work for you. God the Father has created you. God the Son has redeemed you by His blood. God the Holy Spirit has made you holy to God by the water and Word of Baptism.
God’s love for each of you which has eternal benefits can be shared with others – mothers, those abandoned, those guilty, and babies yet to be born – and guilty men – God’s love can be shared with all of them by your earthly means of help and by sharing with them God’s Word of Gospel.
So, be of use to God in this work so that those babies in the womb today – who would leap for joy like John the Baptist in his mother’s womb – can live to be born and to receive the same gifts and blessings you have from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.