Summary: We share in Mary and Joseph's desire to give our kids the best possible spiritual foundations
I want all of us who are parents to think back to a time when you presented one of your children for baptism. What was it that you were asking God to do when you brought your child for baptism? Grandparents, if it’s fresher to think about your feelings at the birth of a grandchild, do that. What would you want the Lord to do for your youngest grandchild?
For me, my deepest dream is that the Lord would make my children whole inside, confident that they are loved, confident that they can explore all of the gifts that God put inside them, confident that they can serve and make a difference in the world. I want them to know that God loves them and I want them to love God in return.
When you see a little baby, like Megan, don’t you just want the best for her? I don’t mean the best toys or the best bedroom furniture or the newest Nintendo or the hottest car. I mean the best in her heart, the best gifts from God.
Last Sunday we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Today we move ahead just a short time and see Mary and Joseph presenting their first-born child to God. Let me read the story for you. As I do, I hope we can feel all the high hopes that were in their hearts as they dedicated Jesus to God. And watch what God did to support them in their desires.
Now hear the word of God from Luke 2:21-35, then jump down to verse 40.
“21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
22 When the time of their purification according to the law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, `Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord'), 24 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.'
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: `This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."…
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”
What do we see happening in the text? We see two young parents, Joseph and Mary, determined to give their child the proper religious upbringing. The passage says over and over again that they didn’t take short cuts. They did it right.
Verse 21 tells us they named him Jesus “the name the angel had given him.”
Verse 22 says that Mary completed a time in seclusion that was a requirement of mothers in the Law of Moses.
Verse 23 points out that they took Jesus to the temple to fulfill the Old Testament law that first-born sons be consecrated to the Lord.
Verse 24 says that they offered God the sacrifice “in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord.”
And then verse 39 confirms it, they returned home to Nazareth, “when Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord.”
In these first steps of providing spiritual care for their child, there was no skimping, was there? I don’t hear any discussion about what was convenient or what was too expensive or what didn’t fit into the schedule this week. They didn’t have their minivan yet to get them down to Jerusalem. But they got there. They were committed to giving Jesus, not just a good diet of food nutrition, not just a warm place to live, not just emotional love, but the best spiritual start they could.