by Matthew C. Harrison
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Matt. 2:7–12)
Herod wanted the child Jesus dead. The Magi refused to assist him. The Holy Innocents gave their tender young lives for Jesus as it were, in the first Christian encounter with the pro-death movement. The Author of life took on life in the flesh in the womb of the Virgin. By doing so, He sanctified and redeemed all life. His blessed sinless conception happened because ours is sinful (“in sin did my mother conceive me” Psalm 51:5). The Lord of glory grew in Mary’s womb. In Elizabeth’s womb, John the Baptizer “leaped” at the greeting of Mary, miraculously and marvelously moved by the Spirit at meeting Jesus.
Mary’s was certainly a crisis pregnancy! Neither she nor Joseph had planned or even acted to cause it. Joseph resolved quietly to end the relationship with an apparently unfaithful woman to whom he was betrothed. But the Lord had a quite different plan, a plan for the life of this child and a plan for the life of the world. “I came that they may have life” (John 10:10). Christians have always opposed abortion (it was practiced in the Roman world already at the time of Christ), because Christ, by taking on every state of human development, demonstrated how precious every life is at every stage of development. And by doing so, He demonstrated that lives at every stage are the object of His redeeming activity. There is no aspect of our sin-filled lives that He has not sanctified and redeemed. There is no life, from conception to death, that He did not live for and die for. He is truly the creator and “Author of life” (Acts 3:15), and “the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). There is no violation of life, including abortion itself, for which our Lord did not die and rise. Have you been complicit in taking a life? Then Christ is for YOU! Especially for you. What an epiphany: Christ is for sinners! “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13).
When we Christians defend life, the critics grouse that our concern is only for the unborn and that we do not care about babies and moms after the child is born. Nonsense. Our people care for the needy. We care for our families. We care for the mother in crisis. We care for children. We provide adoption services for thousands upon thousands. Our congregations provide resources and care. Special agencies care for pregnant women, as well as moms and babies after the child is born. Our charitable arms reach vulnerable women and children all over the world, decade after decade. Indeed, millennium after millennium.
In fact, right now The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is providing $1 million to her congregations in matching dollars for life ministries. Wherever or however our churches are involved in caring for moms and babies, we will match that effort, and the result will be $2 million to help care for mothers and children.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).