The Presentation

Jesus was born into a Torah observant household. Luke reports that he was circumcised on the 8th day after his birth in accordance with the Law of Moses. And on the 40th day after his birth Mary and Joseph took him to the Temple in Jerusalem. There they accomplished two things. Jesus, as a first-born male, was presented to the Lord and devoted to His service.  And Mary offered the appointed sacrifice for her purification. The Torah, regarded as a revelation from God to Moses, involves numerous laws. These are divided into three categories, commandments, ordinances, and decrees. Commandments, what we would call moral law, have to do with our relations with others. Ordinances have to do with the worship of God. And the decrees have to do with issues of ritual purity that also impact on holiness.

Yahweh, the Hebrew personal name for God, first required circumcision of Abraham. This signified he was devoted to Yahweh and Yahweh alone. So Jesus, being a descendant of Abraham, was also circumcised like other Jewish males on the 8th day. He was named that day as well, the name given by the angel Gabriel. In Hebrew it is Yeshua and means Yahweh is salvation.

Childbirth rendered a woman ritually impure for a period of time. This meant she could not go into the Temple to worship God until the time of her impurity was fulfilled.  In the case of a male child that time is 40 days. Then the mother offered a sacrifice in the Temple to complete her purification.  Luke says Mary offered two young turtledoves. This implies she was poor and did not have the means to offer anything greater like a lamb.

When Joseph took Mary to the Temple for her purification they also presented Jesus to the priests for the service of God.  They could have paid the sum required by the Torah to redeem him, meaning he would be freed from that obligation.  But Mary and Joseph already understood that this child, Jesus, had been born to fulfill a great service to God.

The service that he accomplished was to fulfill the Torah Law, especially with respect to the ordinances and decrees. This established a condition of peace and reconciliation between God and man. It is still up to us to fulfill the moral law and establish peace between man and man.

(Painting by Girolama Romanino)