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 [Luke 2:22-24]
It is sometimes from the seemingly smallest and most insignificant scenes in the life of a person that some of the greatest and life-altering truths can be found. The beginnings of Jesus’ life are no different, except maybe that the life such scenes tend to alter is not His for living through it as our own for being privy to it.
Consider, for example, the day when Mary took her young infant son (his age still only measured in weeks) up to the temple for the very routine purpose of making sacrifices for herself and little Jesus. It was something mothers and newborns had been doing for centuries. It was something that took place every single day – several times a day.
The sacrifices served as a reminder that the spilling of blood made a person unclean. And life can sometimes be a pretty bloody affair. Even the good moments. Further, life belonged to God. It was He that gave it, He that delivered it up out of Egypt, by striking down Pharoah with the dreaded ten plagues. Plagues that ended with the death of the firstborn of all those opposed to God.
Women and their 40 day-old babies had been offering these sacrifices every single day of every single year ever since the Exodus, to connect themselves again with the history of Israel and promises of God. They fulfilled these obligations in order to remain a part of that covenant community.
And yet look at the deeper truth being played out in this every-day scene. For the mother is no ordinary mother, for this firstborn Son belongs to God Himself. And even though the price is paid, His life cannot be bought back from God. His life will be wholly devoted to the Lord. He himself will be the sacrifice that buys back firstborn Israel once and for all time.
In the impending passover death of this precious Lamb of God, and his subsequent resurrection death will be forever passed over. His blood will write a new covenant with God’s people, marking their homes so that sin, death, and the devil will never have a fixed place within again!
In the life of this true Son of Israel, this “One who is Holy to the Lord”, God’s people will finally be brought out of the wilderness of sin and doubt, and delivered safely through the waters of Baptism into the awaiting promised land.
It certainly doesn’t look like much. Just a mother and her baby, fulfilling their routine obligations. But That Mother and That Baby are doing it not just for themselves, they are doing it for you and me. This shedding of this Son’s blood will make people clean, and bring life even from death, that we too might be Holy to the Lord!