“And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sin.” (Matthew 2:21)
About 41 days after the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice. This was according to the Law of Moses, (Leviticus 12:1-8) and as man, Christ had to conform to the law.
According to the law, Mary had to bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. The law also provided provision, if the parents were too poor to bring a lamb, then a pair of turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering, would be acceptable. The offerings presented to the Lord were to be without blemish.
Jesus also was without blemish. He was free from physical deformity. “Jesus was our lamb without spot; He was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for us” (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus’ physical structure was not marred by any defects; He was strong and healthy. The Lord, while in the physical body, fulfilled the law. Physical as well as spiritually, He is our example of what God designed all people to be through obedience to His word.
The dedication of the first-born had its origin in the earliest times. This was to be acknowledged in every household by the consecrations of the first-born son. He was to be devoted to the priesthood as a representative of Christ among men.
In the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the dedication of the first-born again was commanded. While the children of Israel were in bondage to the Egyptians, the Lord directed Moses to go to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and say, “Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My first-born, and I say unto thee, let My son go, that He may serve Me, and if you refuse to let Him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born.” (Exodus 4:22-23)
The law of the presentation of the first-born was made particularly significant. It’s a memorial of the Lord’s wonderful deliverance of the children of Israel, and it prefigured a greater deliverance of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for all people.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Harper is pastor of Emmanuel New Covenant Ministry and a member the United Ministerial Alliance.