Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
21Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
22Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.23The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the LORD.”a 24So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”b
It seems like such an insignificant little story, but of course nothing about Jesus’ life is insignificant.
Being a Jew at that time had requirements. Circumcision – a painful little surgery still done today – was a must. And then the sacrifice at the temple. Remember that at the very first passover in Egypt, when God killed the first born son of every person and animal in the land, the child’s life was spared if a lamb was substituted for it. This was still the case and Jesus was Mary’s first born so the sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem was needed.
But Jesus is the perfect son of the living God who created the universe, surely none of this was necessary for him. Perhaps it wasn’t necessary – I don’t know – but it does show us how completely God wanted to share in our human experience. No detail is passed over. No special treatment. The pattern is set and it is important. I Jesus shared in these routine parts of the Jewish experience from his first moment of conception, can we also not bet he shares in our other human experiences: temptation, disappointment, the betrayal of a friend, love, hate, pain, loss, victory, hope, dreams, hopelessness, failure, loneliness?
Your God knows you and your life and your world and is willing to become on with you, wherever and whoever you are.
One last little note. Mary and Joseph sacrificed turtledoves or pigeons for Jesus. These were the sacrifices allowed in the law for the poorest of the people. It was shameful to offer only that, but if that is all you can afford, it is all you can afford. Jesus, God, came to us with nothing but himself…but then, could we ever be given more…or give more than when we give of ourselves.
Lord, give me the courage to let you meet me where I am. Help me to put aside the shame, or perhaps my bigotry and arrogance, and see that you have already been where I am and you have felt what I feel and you still love me and want to give me the most precious gift of yourself. Help me to allow you to live in every corner of my life, and help me to give myself to you as completely as you have given yourself to me.
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