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December 17

Scripture Reading

Luke 2:21-24

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 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”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”


Jesus, like every Jewish newborn, had to undergo three ceremonies. First, was circumcision. Every Jewish boy was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This ritual was so integral to the Jewish culture that it was done specifically on the eighth day, even if the eighth day fell on a Sabbath. The Sabbath is sacred and many things are prohibited on the Sabbath, but on the eighth day, the child is named and circumcised.

Second was the redemption of the firstborn. According to Jewish law, every first-born creature, whether human or animal belongs to God and should be set apart for God (Exodus 13:2). Rather than each firstborn being sent into the service of the temple, redemption can be made through a ceremony (Numbers 18:16). For a cost of five shekels, the parents could "buy back" the firstborn that belongs to God. This is worth one month's pay and should be done soon after the first month after birth.

Thirdly, purification after childbirth. After a woman gives birth to a son, she is unclean for 40 days and cannot enter the temple during that time (Leviticus 12). At the end of her period of uncleanliness, she is to bring to the temple a lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon for a sin offering. However, this can get expensive for the common man. So, if she could not afford it, she could bring two pigeons instead (Leviticus 12:8). This offering was called the "offering of the poor." This was the offering that Mary brought. Jesus belonged to a very poor family that could not afford much.

His later childhood was similarly harsh since Joseph probably died when he was young, and Jesus had to carry the burden of his family. Throughout his life, he lived in poverty in a culture where most people were already poor. He himself said,

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).

Even the tomb he was buried in, was borrowed. Jesus simply had nothing of his own.

Every Christmas we get to remember and thank the Lord who

‘though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9).

As a poet writes:

They borrowed a bed to lay his head when Christ the Lord came down; They borrowed the colt in the mountain pass for him to ride to town. He borrowed the bread when the crowd He fed on the grassy mountainside; He borrowed the dish of broken fish with which he satisfied; He borrowed the ship in which to sit to talk to the multitudes. He borrowed the nest in which to rest; He had never a home so crude. He borrowed a room on his way to the tomb the Passover lamb to eat. They borrowed a cave for him a grave; They borrowed a winding sheet. But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore were his own.”


Song: What Child is This?/Child of the Poor, The Hound + The Fox.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV®Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright© 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved

Poem, unknown poet, adapted.


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