Two Visitations

Luke opens with the account of Zechariah and Elizabeth (1:5-25): how “they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years,” (v.7), but an angel of the Lord (v.11) foretold John the Baptist’s birth of Elizabeth (v.13). The next account Luke records is Gabriel’s visitation to Mary (vv.26-38), in which he foretold both Jesus’ birth of Mary and Elizabeth’s conception (vv.34-38). Mary then visited Elizabeth (vv.39-40) and the two mothers rejoiced (vv.41-56).

These two visitation accounts (Gabriel to Mary, Mary to Elizabeth) are part of the Christmas story, which thousands of Christians rehearse every December. Rather than provide a straightforward exposition of this section (vv.26-56), my aim here is to view these visitation accounts from an angle which I hope will prove edifying. The angle from which we shall view this passage from is the culture of death to which these United States have given themselves, most notably visible in the open promulgation of abortion. Let us see the great contrast between the joy of Mary and the wickedness of abortion.

Mary’s Pregnancy

Consider these four observations regarding Mary’s pregnancy. First, Mary’s pregnancy was unique (vv.31-33, 35, 43, 49-55). No woman before or since has carried Jesus Christ within her womb. At the outset, we need to admit this pregnancy is certainly unique. She bore Jesusthe son of the Most High (vv.31-32a), the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and the true Messiah (vv.32b-33). Her child was unique, but her conception was equally so: she conceived when the Holy Spirit came upon her (v.35) and she remained a virgin (v.34).

Second, Mary’s pregnancy was unplanned (vv.26-27, 29, 34-37). God planned it, which is plain when He sent Gabriel to Nazareth (v.26), but Mary certainly did not. She knew not what business Gabriel was sent with (v.29), nor how such a miracle would be accomplished (v.34). Her immediate plans were marriage to Joseph, her betrothed (v.27). Mary had not prepared herself for a baby.

Third, Mary’s pregnancy was blessed (vv.28-30, 42, 48). In light of this unplanned pregnancy, she is called the favored of God (v.28, 30) and blessed among women (v.42) among all future generations (v.48). “Blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (v.42). Her unplanned pregnancy was not viewed as a curse, but rather as a blessing. How blessed she was depended Who she was carrying, to the uniqueness of her pregnancy. However, if the unexpectedness of her pregnancy should have been considered a curse, then it would have manifested itself. The infant Christ determined how greatly she was blessed, but the pregnancy itself determined that she was blessed.

Fourth, Mary’s pregnancy was joyful (vv.41, 44-47). John the Baptist leaped for joy within Elizabeth in the presence of Christ (vv.41, 44), and Elizabeth also exclaimed with a loud cry how blessed Mary was for her pregnancy (v.42). Elizabeth’s reaction was perhaps the purest of all, for in that moment she was filled with the Holy Spirit (v.41). Mary offered a song of praise to God after these events: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” (v.47). Pregnancy was clearly a happy occasion for these women, even if it was unplanned.

Mary’s Attitude

I want us to note Mary’s attitude towards pregnancy. What default position did she (and Elizabeth) have toward bearing children? The text implies she saw children as a blessing and a joy. She believed unplanned children were never inconvenient. Even unique circumstances, which may create unusual hardship for a mother and father (e.g. bearing a child out of wedlock in ancient Israel), are never a good cause for disappointment in pregnancy. This is because pregnancy (and with it: children, babies, birth, etc.) was considered a gift to this young woman. A gift is a blessing, whether or not you were planning on it. In fact, not to plan on a gift is perhaps a greater venue for joy than to be expecting one.

Even unique circumstances, which may create unusual hardship for a mother and father, are never a good cause for disappointment in pregnancy.

For example, if I arrived at your door tomorrow morning with keys to a new car – completely paid for, tax-free – how would you respond? If I surprised you with a gift card to your favorite restaurant, with enough money to eat there free for a whole year – how would you respond? You would not be frustrated. You would not consider yourself cursed, or heavy-laden, or put-out. You would be happy, flabbergasted, and humbled. This is because gifts are happy things, whether or not planned upon.

This is how Luke 1:26-56 presents the concept of pregnancy. Children are a gift. Babies are a blessing. Pregnancy is a high honor. Therefore, to say, “Well, I wasn’t planning on becoming pregnant right now. Do I have to?” is about as sensical as saying, “Well, I wasn’t planning on eating steak at my favorite restaurant once a week next year. Do I have to?” Our attitude concerning pregnancy should be the same as Mary’s.

Mary and Abortion

With this angle on the text, let us consider briefly the act and culture of abortion. Abortion is the act of murdering a baby while he is still inside the womb. Abortion says, “Your body, your choice.” Mary said, “God’s body, God’s choice: ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word,’” (v.38). Every baby is conceived and grown by the will of God (Psalm 139:13-16), which means every pregnant mother should echo Mary’s words. Abortion says, “You will be sad when an unplanned baby interrupts your life.” Mary said, “I am so glad for this unexpected pregnancy: ‘My spirit rejoices in God my Savior,’” (Luke 1:47).

There are further contrasts to abortion in this passage. In verse 36, Elizabeth is said to have conceived a son, not something sub-human. In verse 43, Mary is called a mother, though she has yet to give birth. In verse 43, Jesus is said to be Elizabeth’s Lord, though He has yet to be born. In verses 41-45, John leaps for joy within Elizabeth’s womb, demonstrating on some basic level he recognizes and rejoices in Christ. At these points in the text, the worldview behind abortion is starkly contrasted.

When we consider such matters, we cannot avoid the wicked advice a culture of abortion would have given Mary. Her pregnancy was unplanned. Her pregnancy was going to be burdensome socially and economically. Her pregnancy was first and foremost about her, and a religious patriarchy (male angel, male deity) should not be allowed to tell her what to do with her body. Mary should have had the option of aborting Jesus. If this does not demonstrate the insanity and evil of abortion for you, Christian, then I dare ask what might.

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