Jesus at the Temple Dedication

Jesus did not come only to take on flesh, he came to take on sinful flesh. He was not himself sinful. But he came into the curse and he came under the law. The law was God’s way for sinful people to come into his holy presence. It was good! The law was good news. But it was weakened by our sin. We could not keep the law so instead of bringing us into God’s holy presence it only brought more just condemnation.

Rom 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (3) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (4) in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

So Jesus, in the likeness of sinful flesh set about, even in his infancy, fulfilling the law on our behalf.

Luk 2:21-39 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (22) And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (23) (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) (24) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” (25) Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (26) And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (27) And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, (28) he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, (29) “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; (30) for my eyes have seen your salvation (31) that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, (32) a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (33) And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. (34) And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (35) (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (36) And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, (37) and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. (38) And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (39) And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

On the eighth day he was circumcised and given the name Jesus. After giving birth to a son a woman was considered ceremonial unclean for 40 days. So when the time had come Mary and Joseph traveled the six miles to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice. The law commanded the offering of a yearling lamb and a pigeon but an exception was given for the poor. The offering of two turtle doves or pigeons indicates their poverty as they came in obedience to the Lord.

As they were doing everything the law required of them, two faithful people came to celebrate Jesus’ coming. They recognized the gift from God that Jesus was. It had been revealed to them. Righteous and devout Simeon had heard from the Lord that he would not die before seeing the messiah. Upon seeing him he worships God with the Psalm, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

Secondly, a hundred plus year old widow, Anna, who had living quarters at the temple grounds, came. She had been worshipping, fasting and praying night and day in advent expectation of the redemption of Jerusalem. She came to give thanks to the Lord that finally, that day had arrived.

Take heart you righteous and devout, you champion of praying and fasting. You have seen that all your righteousness is as filthy rags in that your righteousness is incomplete, and temporary, and imperfect. Rejoice, for God has come. He came not only in the likeness of flesh, but of sinful flesh. Flesh like your flesh and mine. He has come, not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Here is our hope. Jesus will bring us back into the presence of our Holy God!