One of the few things I remember from my brief stint in high school Greek is the first part of John 1. I may have largely forgotten the alphabet, and what little vocabulary I was able to pick up, but I can still recite some of the beloved disciple’s first words about the Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1–5)
The first chapter of John is powerful for many reasons, but over the past few months, the most mind-boggling part of the passage for me has become John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
As a new mom, what I think of when I read that verse is, Wow — the architect of the universe designed my body to bring forth life, and then he entered into that process by becoming a mother’s son.
Not Just for Advent
I gave birth in the middle of the summer. Even though my husband and I were living in the frozen tundra they call Minnesota, the snow had long since melted, the Christmas carols had died down, and even the most negligent of homes had put away their Christmas lights. “Mary Did You Know” was nowhere to be found on the radio.
And yet, as my son’s birth approached, my thoughts returned, again and again, to that manger scene, and marveled at the days leading up to it.
I thought of young Mary, visited by the angel Gabriel. I thought not just of the monumental truth of the promise that he foretold for Mary’s son (Luke 1:31–33), but of little things I’d never thought much about before.
Christ’s mother was a woman whose body became a living sacrifice for him the same way that my body became a living sacrifice for my son. Did she have morning sickness, too? Was it a pain to stop sleeping on her stomach and to shift onto her sides? Did she put her hand to her stomach to feel him kicking and dancing?
How in the world was she able to ride on a donkey nine-months pregnant?
The Word Became Flesh
I have never felt so intimately close to Jesus like I did when our baby boy was born. True, I was not visited by any angel from above, and while my son is made in the image of God and I hope he someday becomes a son of God, he is not the Son of God, immaculately conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus had a mother. And she was once a pregnant woman. And she went through the pain of labor — in a barn, no less — to bring the Creator of the world into his own creation.
It is mind-boggling.
Christ came to earth through a process that has been sustaining mankind from the beginning of time. His mother joined the lineage of countless women who have sacrificed their bodies to bring forth new life, and every mother after her walks those same footsteps.
Pregnancy and childbearing are a beautiful picture, and constant reminder, of the fact that the Word became flesh. He condescended to enter into the cycle of life that has recurred in all humanity since Adam and Eve. It is the simplest and most complex of realities all at once, the nurturing of a child in the womb. And Christ chose to take part in that beautiful simplicity. He went through the entire cycle of life, and it began in the womb of a woman, just as all human life does.
All Things Made Through Him
The Creator let himself be knit together as a child in his mother’s womb. And for pregnant women, our children are being knit together by the very same Creator. As we embark on this journey of motherhood, we can know that our God not only ordained the journey; he also took part in it.
The Creator and sustainer of life was once a child in his mother’s womb. And you, pregnant mother, a child of the Most High, have been blessed to carry a child of your own.
In a world ravaged by the devaluing of unborn life, the fact that our Savior was once a fetus is astounding. The sanctity of the life growing inside a pregnant woman is impressed on us with each new day, not just by the rapid development of that tiny human being or the almost-as-rapid development of that baby bump, but by the personhood vested in him by the Savior whose personhood on earth began the exact same way.
He Dwelt Among Us
As new moms, we are called to make an incredible sacrifice. Our bodies will shift and change in ways that we never thought possible. Everything, from your hips to your hair to your mood, will be undergoing a drastic shift, and, God willing, it will culminate in a birth that will put your body through its most strenuous test yet — and a child who will put your heart through the same.
It is the most amazing and miraculous thing in the world — something only the sovereign Author of life could accomplish. And it’s also the most normal and everyday thing in the world. More than 300,000 babies were born today, and the same number tomorrow. It’s so much a part of our normal existence as humans here on earth that the Son of God himself underwent the same process to become flesh and dwell among us.
And it is because of his coming to earth as a babe, and growing into manhood, and dying on the cross that motherhood is not just a natural life cycle, but a season of sanctification — a series of weeks and months in which we can become more and more like Christ and more prepared for a glorious future with him.
Christ gives motherhood its deepest meaning. And it all starts with him becoming a baby.