A birth announcement can be one of the more joyful tasks a married couple may complete. Whether the news is published online, with an old-fashioned picture, or with a card in the mail, everyone wants to hear the details—boy or girl? How much did he weigh? How long was he? What’s the name? Who does the baby look like?
When Jesus was presented at the Temple forty days after His birth, it was no mere birth announcement for the delight of relatives and the curiosity of strangers. Rather, it was a fulfillment of God’s Law and a pronouncement of Who Jesus truly is.
The period of Jesus’ life that we refer to as the “state of humiliation”
was continuing. He had been conceived by the Holy Spirit. He spent nine months growing inside of His mother until the proper time had come for His arrival. At eight days old, Jesus had already begun to shed His innocent blood, in the rite of circumcision. Now His mother and step-father brought Him to the Temple for His mother’s purification and His own ritual redemption.
According to Moses’ Law (Leviticus 12:4, 6-8), a woman needed to go through a ritual purification following childbirth before she could return to normal activities in society. A first-born son also had to be redeemed or bought back from God. This alluded to the Passover which God performed for His people in the land of Egypt. If the blood of the lamb was upon the doorposts of the people, their firstborn was spared. God now owned the firstborn. The firstborn was to be bought back at a price by the parents.
How ironic that Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb Who shed His blood for the redemption of all mankind, would need to be redeemed! Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as He not only paid for our sins, but became sin for us
(2 Corinthians 5:21).
Nevertheless, Mary and Joseph fulfilled the Law and paid the tax, using the provision allowed for the poor. Two turtle doves or two pigeons could be paid by those who could not afford the heftier price of a lamb and a fowl. This once again showed the deep humility of Jesus in His willingness to be born into a family of such a lowly station.
We’re not sure what Mary and Joseph expected as they presented Jesus in the Temple, but what happened next was definitely a surprise. A random stranger came forward and took their child into his arms and began to proclaim his own birth announcement. The meeting, of course, was not random at all from God’s perspective. Simeon was a devout man awaiting the Lord’s Anointed. He had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would not face death until he had seen the Christ with his own eyes. Simeon had been told by the Spirit to go to the Temple on that precise day where he was able to hold his very Lord and Savior in his arms! Simeon couldn’t help but announce to the world the true identity of this tiny babe.
“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
We are told in the Scriptures that Mary and Joseph marveled at the things that were spoken about Jesus, and isn’t that a marvel in itself? Mary and Joseph had each been visited by angels telling them about their holy Offspring. They knew of His miraculous conception. Shepherds had come to worship the Baby and no doubt told of the heavenly messengers which had proclaimed His birth. Now they hear yet another proclamation about the tiny Child, and still they marvel!
May we never lose the ability to marvel at the birth of our Savior, Who came in human garb, in humble state, to enlighten our hearts, and to reconcile us with our heavenly Father!
David W. Bernthal is the principal of Luther Memorial School in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.