Today is New years Day (2022), and it is the eighth day of Christmas. Because the gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus was taken to the Temple by Joseph and Mary “when the time came for the purification rites required by the law of Moses,” which was to take place on the eighth day after giving birth, and because the Torah required that a boy child was to be circumcised and consecrated to God on the eighth day of his life, the church realized that New Years day would be the day for celebrating this event in Jesus’ life.
A happy coincidence, I think. It matters little whether December 25 is the actual day of Jesus birth, for the ancient church began to commemorate the Savior’s birth for theological rather than chronological reasons. They honestly thought that this date in December was correct, but the reason to celebrate the Lord’s birth had to do with the salvation his coming into the world brought…not marking his birthday like you would remember any other hero.
The day of Jesus’ consecration to Yahweh is filled with great meaning. We know that the baby being brought to the Temple is “the Word who was with God and was God” and became flesh. It is as though the presentation of Jesus in the Temple is an action whereby Joseph and Mary are offering up to God in faith and obedience the offering that He had given out of His own love. A very wonderful symmetry! In doing this action which was required of every Jewish family, Jesus is being identified with God’s covenant people. He is receiving on his body the sign of the covenant…a sign that began with Abraham. So, he is not only being offered in consecration to God but he is becoming identified with us humans. What a thought! He came to be identified with us.
When they get to the Temple there is a prophet there named Simeon. He has been waiting for the Messiah to come, because God had told him he would not die before he had seen with his own eyes the Messiah. Simeon’s prophecy brings to light the power of Jesus being identified with us human beings – not just the children of Abraham, but to all the world’s peoples.
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[c]your servant in peace. 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.” (Luke 2:29-32)
Prepared in the sight of ALL nations; a light for revelation to the GENTILES, and glory of your people ISRAEL. No one left out!
So, as we come to a New Year, we need to see this day as more than a day for getting a new outlook on life. Rather, we need to see it as a reminder that Jesus has come, identified with us in our need, brought us revelation of God’s love and goodness and purpose for our lives, and is offered up to God as a baby (and later offers himself up to God) on our behalf. All of this so that we might live in an entirely new reality, because of Him.
That reality is God’s unending blessing, God’s unfailing love, God’s inexhaustible life, and God’s unmatched holiness – all of these present in our lives and available for us, to change us. Our lives going forward should be filled with Faith, Hope, and Love.
Come what may…Jesus has identified with us so that we can be identified in Him and filled with Him.