21 Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
22 Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 23 The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” 24 So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:21-24)
There is irony aplenty in these verses as we see the Law-Giver being made subject to the Law. Despite the fact that He was the embodiment and fulfilment of the Law, the Law was kept for His sake by His earthly parents. He was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Law and at the same time was given the Hebrew name Jeshua meaning “He will save” or as the angel said in Matthew 1:21, “He will save His people from their sins.” Following this He was presented to His Father and a sacrifice was paid – a redemption offering for which Joseph and Mary could only afford the bare minimum – two small birds. For those able to do so, the normal offering was a bird and a lamb, and so we see the parents of the Lamb of God unable to afford a lamb but making a redemptive offering for the One who would bring redemption!
Setting aside the irony of it all we see two important acts – one symbolising the cutting away of sin and the other symbolising dedication to God, neither of which were in a sense strictly necessary for Jesus. Yet this two things are at the heart of discipleship: departure from sin and dedication to God. To ignore either or to emphasise one over the other leads to imbalance and error.
When you teach young people, emphasise the need to turn from sin – which is different from determination and self will in overcoming sin. Turning is our part, empowering is His. Emphasise equally that the turning is not just turning away from something but turning to Someone – someone whom we fix our hearts on and follow.
Reflection: Is there imbalance in your message? If you were guilty of of over emphasising forsaking sin sin or following God at the expense of the other, which would it be? How will you correct any imbalance?