God reveals himself and his redemptive purposes in his word. He does this for his glory and our joy! His message concerns his dearly loved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is formed according to what God did, does, and will do through him. It declares from its earliest pages “he will come,” and then “he has come” and “he will come again”. Various themes assist in the telling of this message, such as the kingdom, the seed, and the covenants. In our text we ought to see how the Christ or Anointed One came. He came under the law, meaning the old or law covenant, made by God with his people Israel. Listen to Paul’s statement. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4-5 NIV).
Why do you and I need to know this? We can begin by saying we must understand how God tells the story of his glory to us. It helps us as we read parts of the Scriptures like this text, because we can wonder, “Why does the Spirit of God use four verses of the Bible on this stuff?” I think I can safely say that no one ever was told to memorize these verses in Sunday School, Bible study, or a discipleship program. It provides part of the background for understanding what Christ did for us and the newness of life we are called to walk in. It also provides a rare glimpse into the infancy of the Redeemer. Let’s observe a few things of his earliest days.
His parents walked obediently according to the old covenant. He was circumcised and presented to the Lord as the law required. They presented an offering required by the law. Remember that the covenant given at Sinai functioned as the people brought offerings to the priests at the tabernacle or temple. This was their worship. Since the new covenant has one finished sacrifice offered by Jesus the great high priest, our worship is in him. We come to God through Christ, but Mary, Joseph and Jesus approached the living God through sacrifices like this. So then, they were obedient worshipers, just as we should be.
They, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, kept the word of the Lord that came to them through the angel Gabriel. They named their son Jesus (Luke 1:31). This shows their faith that God had indeed spoken to them. We have received the New Testament Scriptures through the apostles and prophets of the Lord. When we read the Bible, we read what the Lord has said. We are to keep what the Spirit has caused to be written for us with the same spirit of faith. In other words, when we pick up God’s book, let us reverence God for what he says to us, and let us respond with faith.
Jesus was born to poor parents. We learn this from the offering that Mary brought for her cleansing after the birth of a son. But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean (Leviticus 12:8 NIV). The earthly parents of the Messiah could not afford a lamb. So, the Lamb of God was presented to God Most High with a pair of doves or pigeons! It was all they could give, but they gave what pleased the Lord. In the same way, God only expects us to give according to the manner that God has prospered us (1 Corinthians 16:2). God does not burden us beyond our abilities. In fact, he sent his Son from heaven’s riches to earthly poverty to make us rich in him. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV). Rejoice in the God who gives generously to make us forever rich!
Grace and peace, David