22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
1901 ASV Translation:
22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord
23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord),
24 and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Textual Issues:In 2:21-24 there are two textual differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26. The first is the spelling of the name "Moses". The Textus Receptus omits one letter. The second is in the phrase in 2:24 "in the Law of the Lord". The Textus Receptus omits the definite article "the".
I. In the paragraph of 2:21-40, it seems to be Luke's intention to address the characterization of the newly born Jesus by two elderly saints in the Temple.
II. The content of Luke's record breaks down into these parts...
A. 2:21 -- the "Name" given
B. 2:22-24 -- the occasion for the comments made by Simeon and Anna
C. 2:25-35 -- Simeon's character and comments
D. 2:36-38 -- Anna's character and thanksgiving to God regarding His redemption
E. 2:39-40 -- Luke's conclusion of this part of his record: the departure to Nazareth and the subsequent growth of Jesus
I. The Initial Issue: Purification.
A. This issue is directly tied to the emphatic teaching of the Law of Moses regarding "uncleanness".
1. The question most naturally arises: Why was there such a powerful focus upon "uncleanness" in the Old Testament?
a. There is little question that the matter was a "life and death" matter because violations were treated with severity.
b. The question of why there was such a focus has been raised by many, and many answers have been given.
c. In the most general sense, "uncleanness" disqualified a person from participation in a very great number of "relational" situations, the greatest of which were the issues of "relating" to God. It was absolutely forbidden for anyone unclean to enter the Sanctuary; and the unclean were also restricted from contact with people.
d. There can be little doubt that the "Big Picture" is that of a defiled creation and humanity so that Death is running rampant through the creation because the humanity in it is in deep-seated antagonism against all that is truly Holy.
e. Thus, the issue of human "depravity" is brought into enormous focus by the Old Testament teaching about "uncleanness".
f. And, the profound depths of depravity are the issue against which the "depraved" rebel so intensely.
g. In order for the Law to do its work as defined by Paul in Romans 5, it had to not only identify the issue of "depravity", it had to push that issue into the setting of man's understanding so that he had absolutely no defenses left. Isaiah 64:6 is one of the most pungent statements in the Old Testament regarding this: every "righteousness" of man is just like the blood-stained cloth of a woman in her "period" -- i.e., it is a witness against his ability to produce "life" because the blood stains are a witness that no conception has taken place and "life" is being flushed down the drain yet again. It does not matter what man does; apart from the enabling grace of God and the actual presence of His Spirit, it is death-producing. The Law's function was to impress men with the enormity of the danger in which they live and function.
2. Then there is the next most natural question: Why did God just, pretty much, do away with the entire concept once the Gospel came?
a. First, there is nothing man can do about it anyway, so, once the case is made, there is no need to keep on "beating him up" with it.
b. Second, there is nothing lacking about what God did about it by His Son: the identity of Jesus as "Savior" is both real and enormouslyunder-rated by the self-righteous.
c. Third, an on-going focus upon "depravity" stirs up the antagonism of man in a way that nothing else does because of his pride.
B. This issue is directly tied to the emphatic teaching in the Law of Yahweh's adequate provision.
1. If Yahweh had not, in a very real, profound, and effective, way, produced a solution, there would have been no "purification".
a. It is true, on the one hand, that "depravity" is beyond human comprehension.
b. But, it is super-aboundingly true, on the other hand, that "purification" is both possible and real.
c. The concept of Mary going up to Jerusalem in response to the "purification" dogma of Moses' prescriptive law is a statement about the reality of her very real confidence in Yahweh.
d. The New Testament doctrine of the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" is an absolutely necessary corollary to the very idea that Yahweh has a solution to man's real, polluted, and enormously profound, depravity.
2. That "Jesus" was the "Son of the Most High" means that His provision was a real and sufficient solution.
a. For illustration's sake, I have often pointed out the sheer numbers of human sins over time (there are currently over 6 billions of people living on the earth and every one of them is acting out their depravity all day long every day to a greater, or lesser -- only believers can be in the 'lesser' category -- degree, and these billions do not include all of those who have already lived and died over the last 6,000 years who also lived out their depravity 24-7).
b. But, the problem is greater than that: it is not the overt expressions of the depravity which constitute the magnitude of the problem; it is the internal reality of that depravity which constitutes that magnitude.
c. Do we dare think that Yahweh would provide a sacrifice of the magnitude that is given in the Bible for a problem of minimal significance? The problem and the provision are not real?
d. Then, do we dare think that the Sacrifice provided was insufficient?
3. The "problem" with the Law was that it's "illustrations" were so inadequate that people began to think that the problem was inconsequential.
a. If I became "unclean", I could be "purified" on the basis of a relatively small amount of grain [Leviticus 5:11 says 0.1 of an "ephah" was the required sacrifice and that is estimated to be about 2 quarts].
b. Even if I was a "rich" man, the "penalty" was almost never greater than a bullock from my many herds.
4. Then, the attitude of "inconsequence" moved down the ladder to making the decision to offer the dregs to Yahweh [Malachi 1:8] because the depravity triumphed over humility.
a. Once a man's sense of his own depravity disappears, his behavior becomes intolerably arrogant toward God and man.
b. Once this attitude is released upon the world, the level of Death explodes.