Summary: Scrapbooks record significant events in a person's life. This series shows us many firsts in Jesus' life and their significance to us. Jesus' first of many trips to the temple of Jerusalem shows us the saving work of Jesus - yes, even as a baby!
As we come to the close of another year and the embark on the year 2019, it’s only natural for people to take look back at what the last 12 months have all entailed. And maybe you’re thinking, “2018 – what a year it has been!” I certainly feel that way. One year ago, I hade not personally met any of you. At most you were a voice on the other side of a phone call, signature at the end of an email, or a face in a pictorial directory. This year has been filled with many firsts for my family and for our church family as we’ve gotten to know one another. Maybe you look at the last 12 months and you think about all that you have personally experienced – additions to your family through births or marriage, new friends, new jobs, special events that you’ve celebrated –birthdays, baptisms, confirmations, graduations, retirement, and then maybe some of the hard things – loss of a loved one, diagnosis of disease, surgeries or sickness. When you stop and think about it, “What a year it has been!”
I can only imagine that as Mary and Joseph made their way from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, they may have had a similar conversation, “What a year it had been!” Just think, 12 months ago, Mary and Joseph were maybe engaged and starting to plan their wedding and looking forward to beginning their married lives together. Then those plans were abruptly interrupted by an angel who delivered some startling news – pregnant by the Holy Spirit, a baby, the Son of God, Savior of the world. Mary had spent 3 months with her relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth, and then returned home to Nazareth where she and Joseph began to prepare for the birth of their son. Then came the mandate of the Roman government that forced them to make the 70 mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Mary had given birth to Jesus in less than ideal circumstances. Yes, Mary and Joseph may have looked at one another and with a slight smile on their face thought, “What a year 0 BC had been for them and their family!”
It wasn’t a very long trip from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, right around 5 miles. Jesus was already over a month old. The verse just before our reading says, “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” (Luke 2:21). The humble faith that Mary and Joseph had already demonstrated in so many different ways in the time leading up to Jesus’ birth, we continue to see here. They simply did as God asked of them and that continued as they now traveled to the temple in Jerusalem.
Jesus was 40 days old and this was the first of many memorable trips that Jesus would make to the temple in Jerusalem throughout his 33 years of life. Mary and Joseph went to the temple in Jerusalem for two reasons. We’re told, “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him [Jesus] to the temple to present him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22). The purpose for Mary and Joseph going to the temple was two-fold.
1) They went to present Jesus to the Lord. The Lord told his Old Testament people that the firstborn male of every family belonged to him. That child could either remain in the service of the Lord helping the priests, or the parents could pay a small amount of money (a few dollars), to redeem that child, freeing that child from that obligation.
2) The second reason that Mary and Joseph went to the temple was to offer a sacrifice as payment for purification. This might seem a bit foreign to us who are so far removed from the Old Testament, but for those who lived before Jesus came, it was a rather regular part of their lives. You see, there were many things that God said made a person “unclean.” One of those things was any form of shedding of blood. In order for a person to be purified from that uncleanness, a sacrifice needed to be made, a price needed to be paid. This payment for purification was a constant reminder of their relationship with God and what was required for it to be repaired. These were pictures that reminded people of their sin which makes them unclean before a holy God. In order to be purified from sin, a sacrifice needed to be made, a price had to be paid. The countless sacrifices made by people like Mary and Joseph throughout the Old Testament pointed people to the perfect sacrifice that the promised Messiah would make as payment for all sins.