There were laws for the Jewish nation concerning childbirth. Among those laws, a woman had to be purified (cared for) in the wake of delivery. Some of the stipulations of her care are listed in Leviticus chapter 12.
“When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. He shall offer them before the Lord to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl.”
One lamb and one bird were required for atonement.
“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.”
The parents of Jesus, to fulfill the law, went to the temple in Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices—the dramatic and grand temple—carrying only birds.
They approached Mary’s cleansing ceremony as necessitous and poor.
Broken. (She was pregnant before they married!)
And untraditional. (These two parents had never shared physical intimacy.)
Obediently in step with Yahweh’s concession—just short of His command.
“…she is to bring to the priest…a year- old lamb…”
“But if she cannot afford a lamb she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons…”
Jesus, the Firstborn (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15&18; Hebrews 1:6, 12:23) consecrated by parents sacrificing from the allowance for the needy ones. The Messiah publicly declared sacred among those who 'have not.'
Our Christ offered to His Father under the canopy of Compromise.
As Mary and Joseph carried their child (and poultry) into the grand courts of the Jerusalem Temple, a man approached them. A man named Simeon, devout and righteous.
Taking the child in his own arms he declared:
“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.”
Mary and Joseph were amazed!
Simeon had even more to say.
“This child is destined to cause the falling and the rising of many in Israel…and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Too? Would a sword pierce her precious baby boy?
Anna, a remarkably disciplined prophet, approached the small huddle also to voice praise for the child in her shaky 84-year-old voice. And then she spoke about the child to all who longed for redemption.
Unable to afford the more desirable sacrifice the parents of a King approach the highest center of worship with the sacrifice of the poor.
And in that humble moment these two prophets praise and bless and predict.
Luke records that Mary then went home to Galilee. (Luke 2:39)
Carrying the child born in scandal.
Her marriage salvaged from unplanned pregnancy.
With the prediction of great things marveling in her heart.
(And possibly some dread of that bit about the sword.)
Mary was fully a mother now--awed at her son’s proclaimed greatness while simultaneously soul pierced interminably. Isn’t it thus?
Mary bore the Lamb but couldn’t afford to buy one.
A living Lamb was allowed to her—outside of her own doing.
Placed, solidified by blood, into her and of her as never before.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…”
John 1:1 & 14
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel
(which means ‘God with us’).
“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. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
I, a Gentile, am by grace a Concession. Born outside of his Law but allowed inside his Family. Adopted as joint heir.
Needy. Impoverished. Without.
"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (which is done in the body by human hands)--remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone."
"This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."
"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
As a Gentile I am accepted as an exception by the blood of Jesus.
I approach with my figurative 'pigeons and doves' and I am welcomed.
Decades after His consecration day, a grown-up Jesus would teach in the very same temple courts many times with wise and persuasive words.
In Luke 21 we read of this incident:
“As Jesus looked up he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Jesus publicly honored a woman who gave all she had out of her lack.
A type of sacrifice he most inherently understood.
He knew what is was to approach the temple as an impoverished one.
Jesus arrived to this earth poor, testifying from infancy that salvation can never be merely ‘afforded’.
Salvation is granted as a result of offering and surrender.
And it's okay to start with nothing.
He accepts that.
(He has lived that.)
Birds in hand we also come finding the sacrifice has already been provided.
How can I receive my own cleansing via ‘pigeons and doves’ and ever dare to judge someone else’s lack of the Lamb?
“You see at just the right time when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Where are the ungodly? The sinners?
Think of them. Picture them.
Jesus gave all He had.
For every right-now-sinning one.
For ALL of us.
No one--not one single person or tribe or nation or ideology-- excluded from His welcome.
From his consecration at infancy it was already proclaiming loud.
“prepared in the sight of all nations”
“to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel”
“a light for revelation to the Gentiles”
“a sign that will be spoken against”
“the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed”
In this season.
Is this our cry?
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised…my eyes have seen your salvation…”
For all who are encumbered & lacking.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
Come and see!
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
His return is imminent.
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
He waits especially for you.
“Glory to God in the Highest Heaven
and on earth Peace to those on whom His favor rests!”