And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. .(Luke 2:25-30)
When Jesus was eight days old, he was circumcised. Weeks later he and Mary his mother were presented in the temple for the performance of the other two of the three Mosaic rituals which teach original sin. Jesus had to be circumcised, and redeemed as the firstborn son, and Mary had to bring a purification offering for having given birth.
Circumcision presupposes guilt and sin. It is a way of saying, that something is wrong with us from birth, we must be altered and that alteration must involve the shedding of blood. Particularly the sexual part of us, the part that transmits the ‘sin nature’ must be marked.
The Messiah is unique. As a human being Jesus had no sin nature, being born of a virgin. But on the eighth day of his life, he was already fulfilling the scripture, “He was numbered with the transgressors”, taking his place as a fallen human being, submitting to the covenant of circumcision, and shedding his blood already, as though He were a sinner.
The second ritual, which is the Redemption of the firstborn male, also presupposes original sin. Every firstborn male had to be redeemed in the temple. The first birth is already fallen, and in need of deliverance. Thus the ritual of redemption,ie salvation by purchase.
Joseph and Mary would have presented Jesus to a Priest,along with the redemption money. The Priest would then hand Jesus back to Joseph, holding the Redemption money over Jesus’ head , and saying something like the following;
“This instead of that, this in commutation for that. May this child enter into life,into the Law and the fear of heaven. May it be God’s will that even as he has been admitted to redemption,so may he enter into the Law, the nuptial canopy and into good deeds.Amen.”
Then the priest would lay hands on the infant Jesus’ head and pronounce a form of the following benediction;
God make thee like Ephraim and Mannaseh.The Lord bless thee,and keep thee: the Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord turn his face unto thee, and give thee peace.
The Lord is thy guardian: The Lord is the shade upon thy right hand.For length of days and years of life and peace shall they add to thee.The Lord shall guard thee from all evil,he shall guard thy soul. Amen.
Thus did the Son of God fully submit himself to the full will of God, identifying himself as one with us sinners. He was indeed “Made under the law” as Paul tells us, and fully undertook the complete and heavy weight of the Law of God, for us sinners.
As Joseph and Mary carried Jesus through the busy temple, undertaking their business of presenting a firstborn son to the God of Israel and according to the covenant, they no doubt squeezed past many other worshippers, bringing their various offerings and gifts to the Lord.
They would have smelled the meat, and seen the busy, blood splattered priests, and heard the ancient Psalms arise from the worshippers. Jews would have crowded into the sacred precincts to conduct similar errands as Joseph and Mary, as well as to keep vows, or to be examined by priests for ailments, or to receive any of the various services of mercy in the name of God.
Four centuries earlier, before the commencement of the long prophetic silence, The Prophet Malachi warned Israel that “The Lord whom you seek would appear suddenly in His temple…”. Who realized that as they brushed past the lowly couple with a new baby and a poor person’s offering, that very scripture was being fulfilled?
The last of the three rites which teach original sin, was the purification of Mary. Because of sin, birth is the transmission of the sin nature. Therefore that which has to do with birth, in men and women is considered uncleanness.
Alfred Eidersheim describes the Purification rite beautifully,
We can now, in imagination, follow the Virgin-Mother in the Temple.29 Her child had been given up to the Lord, and received back from Him. She had entered the Court of the Women, probably by the ‘Gate of the Women,’ on the north side, and deposited the price of her sacrifices in Trumpet No. 3, which was close to the raised dais or gallery where the women worshipped, apart from the men. And now the sound of the organ, which announced throughout the vast Temple-buildings that the incense was about to be kindled on the Golden Altar, summoned those who were to be purified. The chief of the ministrant lay-representatives of Israel on duty (the so-called ‘station-men’) ranged those, who presented themselves before the Lord as offerers of special sacrifices, within the wickets on either side the great Nicanor Gate, at the top of the fifteen steps which led up from the Court of the Women to that of Israel. It was, as if they were to be brought nearest to the Sanctuary; as if theirs were to be specially the ‘prayers’ that rose in the cloud of incense from the Golden Altar; as if for them specially the sacrifices were laid on the Altar of Burnt-offering; as if theirs was a larger share of the benediction which, spoken by the lips of the priests, seemed like Jehovah’s answer to the prayers of the people; theirs especially the expression of joy symbolised in the drink-offering, and the hymn of praise whose Tris-Hagion filled the Temple. From where they stood they could see it all, share in it, rejoice in it. And now the general service was over, and only those remained who brought special sacrifices, or who lingered near them that had such, or whose loved abode was ever in the Temple. The purification-service, with such unspoken prayer and praise as would be the outcome of a grateful heart, was soon ended, and they who had shared in it were Levitically clean. Now all stain was removed, and, as the Law put it, they might again partake of sacred offerings.(Eidersheim,Life and Times of Jesus Messiah)
The Messiah has now entered into his chosen place, numbered with the transgressors and as a man under the Law of God, in order to Save us. But who knew what was going on then? And Who knows what is going on now?
In part 2 we will see that some knew…