The Gospel of Luke contains the most comprehensive narrative of the coming of Jesus to the womb of Mary of Nazareth (Luke 1:26 – 2:40). In this blog, I want us to go deeper into the phenomena associated with that unique pregnancy. The instance of that particular gestation brought about tremendous and irreversible changes for the Creation. We have already considered together the implications of the three days the body of Jesus lay in the tomb in a blog conveniently labeled, In The Tomb. In American culture, we use the term “womb to tomb” to refer to the fact that some things last a human “lifetime.” In fact, in the context of the person of Jesus this is a very important idea. The Womb phenomenon in His life and the Tomb phenomenon in His life were of vital importance to what He was accomplishing. These two time periods spent in the dark, so to speak, included enormous transformations inside both the Eternal and the Creation.
Some spectacular things occurred in the earth (the Creation) shortly after the end of the gestation that resulted in the birth of Jesus. For example, in the passage we find an angel appearing to a group of shepherds to speak to them concerning the birth of this One. The angel was “suddenly” joined by a large group of colleagues who announced a new era in the relationships of God with men (Luke 2:8-14).
Later in Luke 2, on the eighth day of His life, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple for His circumcision and dedication. During that visit, a man named Simeon pronounced that the coming of Jesus was the extension of the covenant to the Gentiles (vv. 31-32). In a few moments, a widow named Anna (84 years old) began to speak of the relationship of the coming of Jesus and the redemption of Jerusalem which is a metaphor in this instance for the Israelites.
Then, in Matthew 2, we find the coming of the magi from the east (the direction of holiness) in response to the witness of His birth seen literally in the heavens (Matthew 2:2). The arrival of the Magi caused other things to happen, but they came because they saw in the night skies something which they understood to accompany the birth of a unique human entity.
These attestations to the birth of this one person are unique in history. In a sense these events are a response to a kind of superabundance of joy taking place in the Eternal. This joy had a central cause. The fullness of the redemption God had always planned for man was in motion. The birth moment of Jesus – the time He took His first breath as a mortal – brought into the Creation the actuality of that redemption. Now the human life could be lived which would bring this redemption into its full actuality in the lives of humans.
Before the conception of the person, Jesus, the redemption of man was a matter held in trust in the Godhead. It was certain but had not occurred in its Creation-dimension yet. Let’s be clear. The redemption of the sons of God was already an eternal fact. In Eternity, that fact had existed from the moment creation began. But in the Creation, redemption was still a future fact until Jesus was born.
So there They were in Eternity, God the Father and God the Son. At the time of Their choosing, They sent an angel named Gabriel to a young woman in an unlikely village called Nazareth in the region of Galilee. You see, it was necessary for her to agree to carry this particular child in her womb. Being yet a virgin, the request that was being made of her was very notable. In no other case in human history had such a request been made of any woman. Gabriel was informing her of a unique event. In a manner that has not otherwise been known, God the Spirit would cause the new life to come into her womb. In an asexual manner, this young, unmarried woman would become pregnant with a human being like no other.
More to the point, God the Son would “leave” the Godhead and take on the flesh of the life that was to come forth. The Son of God was about to lay aside much of His glory and take on mortality in the person of Jesus. The announcement made to Mary was also partly to prepare her for what would happen to her in the world. In the Eternity, what was happening to her was glorious. To many in the world, it would be seen as yet another case of a young woman who had become pregnant outside the context of marriage. Certain stigma would be attached to that. That was unavoidable. This event required that her husband-to-be would be informed by an angel of God by way of a dream (Matthew 1:19-25). This assurance of reality coming from God would, of course, make the matter more certain to Joseph than would have been the case had Mary been required to inform him. It seems she was already known to be pregnant when Joseph was informed.
Let’s gather some facts. Mary was informed of and consented to a pregnancy before her marriage. She agreed knowing there were social risks to her. With her consent, God the Spirit caused a pregnancy to begin inside her flesh. When it became known that she was pregnant, her husband-to-be was sent word by God the Father of what was going on. Now the gestation would begin. Our interest is in the gestation period itself.
The pregnancy having commenced, the coming of God the Son into the life forming in the womb of this young woman would become fact. God the Son, He of the Godhead, would now spend time in the womb as we have all done. We cannot know the exact moment in which the presence of the Son became a factual reality. One might argue that He could wait until the birth and then inhabit the child of flesh. This is almost certainly not what happened. Luke also informs us of a visit that Mary undertook shortly after she became pregnant – less than a month. When she arrived at the home of Elizabeth, who was then six months into her pregnancy, Elizabeth knew that the Son of God was in the womb of Mary (Luke 2:41-45). The son in her own womb (John the baptizer) informed his mother of the fact. Mary was informed of what was to come when Elizabeth was five months pregnant (Luke 2:36). So in a period of about a month, Mary was informed and was far enough along in her pregnancy to make the visit to Elizabeth which produced the heralding of the coming of the Son of God from the prophet in the womb of Elizabeth. Clearly, then, God the Son was present in the pregnancy from some time in the first month. My contention is that God the Son was a present feature from the onset of the pregnancy. Further, it can be argued that the point of conception is the point at which the human spirit enters into each pregnancy. This unique pregnancy was attended by God the Spirit, who in some sense may be seen to accompany God the Son at the time of His “entry” into the womb of the mother of Jesus. The Son of God would thus be present throughout the flesh gestation that was to now occur. This is consistent with the notion that He was in every way subject to this life of the flesh except in its actual conception, and even that was as much like ours as possible given who the “begetter” was.
The nine month gestation was now underway, and the Son of God would in time be born in the form of the man called Yeshua (Jesus). Just as each of us is an instance of a breath of God, even so the child to be born was the instance of the breath of God. As the vessel of flesh is formed around each of us in the womb, even so was the vessel of flesh formed around the Son of God for His arrival among us.
In other writings I have claimed that scripture suggests that the breath of the Creator is the actual person who each of us is (Genesis 2:7). As God the Son was the active Godhead-entity in the acts of creation (John 1:3,10), it stands to reason that we may view the events in Genesis to represent that the real person, the inner person, is the presence of the life that was in that breath. The spirit-being that you are even before the flesh is woven into you has its being and life in the life of God the Son. In the case of Jesus, the flesh was woven onto the spirit-being He was as the Son of God. He, who was the origin of the breath that gave life to the first man, was now becoming a man Himself. That seems a fairly glorious thing. Surely all of Heaven was keenly interested in the process. On the spiritual side of this pregnancy was the acute awareness of what was occurring. Now, God the Son was to enter the world not as a breath breathed into inanimate material, but as Himself. The pregnancy was not watched with fear by Heaven. It was watched with something more like profound interest and joy. Nothing like this had ever occurred, nor was any such thing to occur again. In all eternity, as far as we can know, this was completely unique.
It seems that the pregnancy was attended by God the Spirit throughout. The Spirit was the companion of the Son in the womb of Mary in a way that is more pointed than has been the case with any other human being. This was not a worrisome presence, it was a triumphal presence. We cannot say that Mary was aware of the extraordinary presence of the Spirit over the gestational period.
Mary carried that amazing and unique configuration with her, in her womb, when she went to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth in a Judean city (Luke 2:39-40). That power, although contained and concealed in the most human of contexts, was such that its presence awakened the prophet John to Itself. We don’t know a lot about how aware humans are of the world when tucked away nicely in their mothers’ wombs. But what happened that day indicated an unusually acute awareness on the part of John ben Zacharias, the prophet, the son of a priest of Aaron’s lineage. The prophet is a person who is atypically aware of the Spirit of God to begin with, and we know that John was to live an unusually prophetic life. But at that time, when the pregnancy of Mary was but weeks old, a connection was made in the moment the two wombs came into physical proximity to one another. Imagine that. Let’s suppose that God the Spirit and/or God the Son were aware of what was going on, and that They in some sense introduced Jesus to His cousin in that moment. The cousin, already an unusual spiritual phenomenon himself, was so stirred by such a concentration of spiritual phenomena outside – but nearby to – himself that he made his own mother aware of what was going on. What an amazing moment of worship that was! From within the womb, the prophetic enunciation was made that day concerning the birth of the Redeemer (Luke 2:42-45).
As the flesh of the man Jesus was woven onto the being of the Son of God and became one with that Spirit, all the potential for Son-ship that could be found in the Godhead was maintained. When the time came for Jesus to come forth into the world from Mary’s womb, the human who came forth was at once a flesh man who called Himself the Son of Man, and he was the manifest Son of God as attested by God the Father Himself at the baptismal site (Luke 3:21-22). Let’s keep the two things in mind. Jesus referred to Himself most frequently as Son of Man and He was fully Son of God. What an amazing amalgam. At once both things were fully true in the one human frame.
So what was happening in the womb of Mary from Nazareth? The human flesh of the man called Jesus was being woven onto the spirit of the Son of God. This was happening by the one-time provision of God the Father so that He could insert into the world the very Son of God to come forth as a man to show us the way to the heart of God the Father.
Adam had failed of his promise/destiny. Jesus would not do so. That’s what was happening in Mary’s womb. When that time was over, the redemption of man was assured. As we saw, testimony to that was all over the place when He got here. From the beginning of His work, it was clear that the promise of that destiny was for all men.