Keeping The Law (11-01-21)
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:21-24)
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
There were three religious rituals surrounding the birth of a Jewish baby boy. Firstly there was circumcision on the eight day as a sign of belonging to the people of God. Then, at three weeks, there was the redemption, or buying back from God, of the firstborn son, associated with the deliverance of the firstborn sons when Israel fled captivity in Egypt. Finally, at forty days, there was the purification of the mother; the last two both requiring sacrifice.
Just as the gifts that the Wise Men brought to Jesus spoke prophetically of the future role of this child, so too did the presenting of Jesus in the temple. By doing this Mary and Joseph were fulfilling the requirements of the Jewish law concerning Jesus, as well as fulfilling the laws of purification regarding Mary. Thirty years later Jesus himself would fulfil the law, not just for himself but for the whole of creation, so that we are put right with God through faith in his death and resurrection.
The laws of God have been fulfilled, there is no further sacrifice to be made, redemption is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we live within the grace of God and the love of the Father, which he has lavished on us.
Purification, on the other hand, is a journey, as we daily bring to God the things we do wrong and seek the forgiveness, which is part of the grace that is always there for us.
And, for Christians, baptism is the sign of belonging to the people of God. Let us rejoice that we are part of a family that spans both time and space and let us consecrate ourselves afresh to serve God’s purposes in our homes, our churches, our communities and the wider world.
O Lord, open my eyes, that I may behold your glory.
O Lord, open my ears, that I may hear your call.
O Lord, open my heart, that I may know your love.
O Lord, open my lips, that I may declare your praise.
O Lord, open my life, that I may reveal your glory.
Speak O Lord, as we come to you.