“When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22 – 24)
There is more to the passage cited for this day. Mary & Joseph meet both Simeon & Anna in the temple. They praise the Lord God that they have seen this day come about, that the Messiah is born and have have experienced his earthly presence. Each of our children were presented in the congregation we attended, and the congregation (think of the psalmist’s “in the company of the upright”) who attended pledged themselves to support us as we raised out children. It is a powerful moment as a young parent to feel that support. But Mary & Joseph were taken by surprise when Simeon & Anna revealed to these young parents the influence that Jesus would have.
I cannot imagine how I would respond if someone had revealed to me such a future for my child or children. As parents we want to raise our children well so they can take their place in society and contribute in a positive way. But this . . . would have blown my mind. And, make me afraid. Mary & Joseph must have been very special people to carry this knowledge while raising Jesus. Or may, during his growing years these memories receded, and they simply focused on raising their son.
“Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14 – 15)
Paul the apostle reminds us that Jesus was more than just the son of Mary & Joseph. And in a sad way, we may come to think that their parentage may not have contributed to who Jesus was as a man. We are told in the gospel of Luke that their coming to the temple to present Jesus was the normal and typical thing to do, and the sacrifice required was a modest one.
“For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.” (Verses 16 – 17)
How do we make sense of the dichotomy of this event in the life of the infant Jesus? Remember Jesus was but a small squirming infant, no doubt no different than any other infant his age. It is the gift of sight that Simeon and Anna had that set this apart. And from what Paul says, even in adulthood he was comparable to other men of his age and social position.
“Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” (Verse 18)
It is how Jesus dealt with his humanity that set him apart. And it is how we, beloved reader, deal with our human impulses and will that will set us apart. That is something important to keep in mind as the year 2021 rolls out before us. Shalom & Selah!