Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008 Christmas I Luke 2;22-40

And when, were fulfilled, the days of their purification, according to the Law of Moses, they brought Him into Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord; just as it is written in the Law of the Lord that ALL MALES WHICH OPEN A WOMB "HOLY TO THE LORD" THEY ARE TO BE CALLED, and to the giving of a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS. . And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, "Look This One is appointed for a falling and a rising of many in Israel and as a sign spoken against. And also, of your own soul, a sword will pierce through, so that the reasonings from many hearts will be revealed." And Anna, a prophetess was there, a daughter of Phanuel, out of Asher's tribe; this one had gone forth for many days, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and herself a widow up to 84 years, who did not withdraw from the Temple, with fasting and petitions worshiping night and day. And she, in that hour, came up thanking God and speaking concerning Him to all those expectantly awaiting Israel's redemption.

The event of today's Gospel seems rather irrelevant as Jesus is presented to the Temple. Every first-born male child since Moses' day had to have this done for him, so that his parents could buy him back from the Lord. Since Passover, each 1st-born boy belonged to God, and had to be redeemed at the price of pure lamb. Yet, because God knew that a poor young couple starting out, like Mary and Joseph, couldn't afford such a sacrifice, two doves or pigeons could substitute for the usual lamb.

What appears as a rather ordinary event of the day, actually has great significance. The presentation of Jesus was considered so important in the early church that it was celebrated as a Festival on February second. Although it now plays second-fiddle to a ground-hog, it is still a holiday honored among Christians to this day. This day is significant for Jesus as a human, born under the Law to keep it in our stead. It was also important for Jesus as God, since it points to His divine work as our Redeemer.

The redemption of Christ Jesus was quite unique indeed. For Jesus was God by Whom all things were created. The redemption payment was to God, yet in this case, the payment was for God. Yet God is veiled here, hiding behind the countenance of the 40 day old infant Jesus. It is according to His human nature that he must be bought back from God so Mary and Joseph can raise Him as their own. Yet there is absolutely no mention of the lamb as redemption payment.

The presentation of Jesus is an event which shows Jesus redemption at the price of two small birds. But it is also an event which foreshadowed your redemption at the price of the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. No lamb bought Jesus His freedom. But a spotless Lamb would be the price paid at the cross of Calvary by which you are redeemed. You are bought back to God, freed from the shackles of sin, death and the devil which had held you fast, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

So what do you think of the presentation of Jesus for you? Do you value your own redemption at such a great price of His sacrificed body and shed blood on the cross? Or does that day seem so very far away, since it was almost 2000 years ago? Can you treasure your gift of liberty and life purchased so long ago, in the distant past? Are you tempted to dismiss your redemption at the price of the life of the Lamb of God, either taking it for granted, or considering it a past act to be long forgotten.

Your Redeemer remains active in your life now, that the freedom from sin, death & Satan He wrought at the cross be delivered to you this day! Your Redeemer washed your sins away in Baptism, and makes it a daily bath for you in His gifts of contrition and repentance. Your Redeemer speaks to you through the mouthpiece of your pastor, who reads, preaches, and proclaims your sins forgiven with Jesus' Own words. Your Redeemer feeds you a new Passover meal, from His body and blood of forgiveness.

Ironic, that the Redeemer needed to be redeemed Himself. He was bought back at a relatively cheap price to live under God's Law and keep it perfectly in your stead. You, however, were not redeemed at such a small price, not even by silver and gold, but by your Redeemer's holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death. Jesus not only has brought you back to God, He has bought you back to God at the greatest price! For He Who was Himself redeemed, has redeemed you forevermore. Amen.

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