Reflections: February 2, 2021
The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord
By Jacob Ehrhard
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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 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"). (Luke 2:22-23)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Law demanded every firstborn male of Israel, both of men and of beast (Exodus 13:1-2). God made His lawful claim just before the first Passover, when His Angel executed the firstborn males of all the Egyptian children and livestock. Israel's firstborn were not excluded from this judgment because of special status or privilege, but because they were marked by the blood of the Passover lamb. They were spared because another died in their place.
The deaths of the firstborn males in Egypt ended with the tenth plague, but in Israel that Law continued through the generations. The death of the firstborn is a symbol of original sin, showing that before we even have a chance to transgress the Law we already stand condemned to death.
But just as the firstborn were marked by the blood of the lamb in Egypt, every firstborn male child born after the Exodus was marked by the blood of a sacrifice. They were spared because of the death of another.
When Jesus was 40 days old, His holy parents offered the same sacrifice as countless parents before them. But this sacrifice meant something different for the One who was born of a virgin. Instead of being spared death, the sacrifice of presentation marked Jesus as the One who must die. Now His blood sets us apart as holy to the Lord. We are marked by the blood of the Lamb, which cleanses us from our sins and is a pledge of life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Jesus, by Your presentation, When they blessed You, weak and poor, Make us see Your great salvation, Seal us with Your promise sure; And present us in Your glory To Your Father, cleansed and pure. ("In His Temple Now Behold Him" LSB 519, st.3)
-Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is the pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.
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