January 2, 2023 (The Eighth Day toward Epiphany)
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“When their time of purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took their baby Jesus to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord as it was written in the Law of the Lord as every male is to be consecrated to the Lord.” (Luke 2.22-23)
The season of Epiphany is twelve days on the Church calendar. It leads the believer in a spiritual journey from recognizing, as a shepherd, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem until you, as a wise man, recognize Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. While on the worship calendar it is twelve days in real time it is a minimum of seven hundred and thirty days. Today, we are on the eighth day out of twelve days on our way to present ourselves with our most precious gift honoring “the child who is King of the Jews and Lord of all life.” Yes, I did not say that incorrectly. When the magi arrive in Bethlehem after at least a two year journey from their own homelands, they bowed down before “the child who is King” and not “the child who would be King.” Every person is born into this world with a purpose and for a purpose. The very name of Jesus, Yeshua, declares that purpose as “One who saves [His people from their sins.]” He can only do this by being the King of kings and Lord of lords as well as, as Isaiah prophesied, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and the bearer of the weight of the governance of the world.” There is some semblance of the story of Samuel putting the Lord’s anointing on David to be King of Israel before he was coronated as king in this story of Jesus. That anointing came forty days after His birth in Bethlehem. According to the Law which was given to Moses to administrate among the nation of Israel, Mary was unclean for seven days (and then Jesus was circumcised) and for an additional thirty-three days (and she would present Him with the appropriate sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem for His consecration.) According to the Law, two turtledoves (are you singing in your mind “…and a partridge in a pear tree“) were to be offered. Luke makes a great effort to teach His congregations of the righteousness of Jesus. Jesus’ life was ordered by the Book, “The Word of the Lord,” so that all things would be seen as faithful obedience to His Heavenly Father, the Lord our God. Why would a congregation of Gentiles or disaffected Jews even care about such information? For Luke, the witness of the call to be righteous according to God’s Word was his purpose in life for our lives. It was what Luke found to be his calling, his mission and his ministry. Whether his vocation was a indeed a doctor, as some believe, or a historian of “The Age of the Church” in which he believed, the testimonial to the truth of the Gospel was the most important part of his life. He wanted the people to know the vital details of what Jesus believed about Himself and what was of greatest importance. For Luke, Jesus did everything to fulfill “all righteousness” from being born by water (and pulse) as in His birth in Bethlehem to Mary to being born by spirit (and truth) in His baptism by His cousin John the Baptizer in the Jordan River thirty years later to being proven that He truly died for our sins as the Roman spear pierced His wounded side from which flowed water and pulse. It was because of all these things and more that God accepted His gift, the gift of His life in flesh and spirit, and granted to Him the fulfillment of the promise He made to raise Him from the grave on the Third Day. For Luke, all “these” things were the prelude to that which made all the difference in the world in our lives as believers regardless of our beginning. It is by the righteousness of God in Christ that we have been given life and consecrated in service to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Even the song of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” are indicators of the gifts given to us to guide us in our understanding of the greatest truth of all: Jesus is Lord and Christ indeed!!! What else needs to be said but “Yes to Him and thanks be to God who has made it possible that we should be reconciled to Him through the greatest gift ever received in our lives which is Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sting of sin in our lives forever.”
Father, You have done this for us because of Your great love for Your people. We bask in the light of that love and offer ourselves to You in service to Your people as vanguards, missionaries and representatives of the King of kings and Lord of lords whose name is Jesus. It is in and by His name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.