In the gospels, Jesus is pro-life

14 June 2024

Sean Redfearn from Christian Concern shows how the gospel accounts present Jesus as staunchly ‘pro-life’ on the beginning and the end of life

When you encounter Jesus in the gospels, it’s not hard to see why the world would be a better place if everyone was more like him.

And in the gospels, Jesus is pro-life.

In fact, life is the issue for Jesus.

‘Life’ is why Jesus came into the world.

The Bible’s most famous verse even says:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)

Humans weren’t originally created to face death (Romans 5:12), and Jesus hates death – that’s why he conquered it (Romans 6:9; 2 Timothy 1:10).

Jesus’ mission is to bring dead people to life (Mark 10:45; John 5:24; 1 Timothy 1:15) – that’s why he came.

So when our world, and our leaders, say that it’s actually better for some innocent people to be killed and moved from life-to-death rather than from death-to-life, we can know that they are not in agreement with the most loving person in history.

Most people want Jesus on their side. But, as Greg Koukl writes:

“What we cannot do, though, is reject the Gospel accounts out of hand and then advance our own personal opinion of the Jesus of the Gospels, since there will be no Jesus left to have a personal opinion about.”

So, here is what the gospels say about Jesus, and the beginning and end of life.

Jesus, the gospels, and the beginning of life

In the gospels, we are chronologically introduced to Jesus when the angel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her that she will miraculously conceive (Luke 1:26-38).

Then we see an example of an unborn baby (John the Baptist – about 22-24 weeks gestation) alive and leaping in the womb (Luke 1:41-44), because of the news that Jesus is going to be born.

Mary is also called “mother” by Elizabeth (Luke 1:43) before Jesus is even born, which presumes the existence of a human being for Mary to be the mother of.

The infancy narrative of Luke’s gospel affirms life in the womb.

In addition, we have a couple of verses in the gospels where Jesus himself (now all grown-up) specifically mentions scenarios of pregnant women.

Speaking about future difficulty, Jesus says:

“How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!” (Mark 13:17 NIV)

Jesus sympathises with the hardship that comes with pregnancy and motherhood, particularly during difficult times, and we know how accommodating Jesus is of the women who follow him and listen to his teaching.

Jesus champions women in the gospels. But Jesus is also a champion of the birth of human beings:

“When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” (John 16:21 ESV)

Jesus recognises the pain that comes with pregnancy, but he also says that the joy of a human being born into the world is greater than this agonising pain – to the point that the anguish of pregnancy is not even remembered when measured against the birth of a new human being into the world.

Jesus’ statement in John 16:21 is non-particular and absolute. He is saying that there is joy when any human being, made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), is born into the world.

Jesus views human life too highly for us to say that he is anything other than pro-life.

And Jesus is also clear that testing circumstances and the inevitability of suffering is no reason not to live (John 16:33). In fact, the meek life Jesus himself chose to live demonstrates this (just read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Philippians 2:6-8).

Life in-and-of-itself is precious to Jesus and not to be discarded.

The only time Jesus says someone would be “better off” not to be born is when he speaks about Judas (Mark 14:21) – someone who is not innocent, and someone of whom Jesus is foreknowingly aware of the consequences for his betrayal.

Jesus, the gospels, and the end of life

Jesus’ mission is to bring dead people to life, and this is patterned in the gospels when Jesus raises a little girl (Mark 5:41-42), a young man (Luke 7:14-15), and a weak-and-ill grown man (John 11:43-44) from the dead.

In our culture, we hear the argument that some (weaker) people are better off dead because the suffering that they will continue to face in their lives is ‘intolerable’. The argument presents death as the best, and even the only, ‘solution’.

Those whom Jesus healed all eventually died again. But he never treated death as the ‘solution’ for their situations.

Jesus admits that life will be hard:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

But “take heart” connotes perseverance, endurance, and trust in God – the opposite of opting for death.

Opting for death as the solution to life’s sufferings is not on Jesus’ radar. In fact, Jesus is the only (truly) innocent person who needed to face physical death to fix the problem of suffering. And even in his story, life triumphs over death.

The gospel message in its most basic form is that Jesus came to save us from death and give us life. But those who champion death as a solution want the reverse: they want death to ‘save’ someone from life.

Such an attitude is an affront to the love of Jesus, because it runs completely counter to the power of the gospel message.

Jesus came that people may have life (John 10:10), which you can’t have if you opt for death as a solution.

Societies that pursue Jesus flourish the most

‘Life’ is not a peripheral issue for Jesus.

If ‘life’ matters to history’s greatest person, it should matter to us.

Peoples and nations who have followed the principles that matter to Jesus have succeeded in history.

Pray that Jesus would be placed at the heart of our society. Apart from him, we are told by the God-man himself that we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Pray that our nation would value life.

Life matters.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (John 1:4 NIV)

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