And 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 male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:22-24)
It was time to head to Jerusalem. Jesus was 40 days old, and the firstborn Son of His mother. The Law of Moses said that such children belonged to the Lord, on account of God having saved them from death during the days of the Exodus from Egypt. Firstborn animals like sheep and goats were used as sacrifices, but that wasn't going to work for human beings. They had to be redeemed by their parents: "bought back" from the Lord (see Exodus 13).
Mary was also there for another reason—for purification after childbirth. To get back into ordinary life, she needed to make an offering. Usually this would be a lamb and a bird, but for poorer women, it could be two birds—a pair of doves or pigeons (see Leviticus 12). Mary and Joseph brought birds for this offering, which tells us they weren't wealthy.
Once the offerings were completed, the young family could head home—everyone safely redeemed and purified, ready to begin their new life together. The offerings made the difference.
And that's what we need as well. We need purification. We need to be made clean and ready for a new life. We also need redemption. We need to be bought back, ransomed, and set free to live that new life. Only then can we begin life as a family—the family of God.
But where is our offering? It is right there—the baby Jesus Himself. God sent His own Son to become our offering, to redeem us and make us pure by His own self-offering on the cross. The minute details of God's Law are not just trivia; they point us to something real and wonderful about Jesus. He is our offering. Because of Him, we too begin a new life in the family of God.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You for giving Yourself for us as an offering so that we might be God's family. Amen.
* What rituals do people in your culture carry out when a baby is born?
* What kinds of offerings do you make to God in your own life?
* What words would you use to describe Jesus' offering of Himself for your sake?
Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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