Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďCHRISTíS PRESENTATION AT THE TEMPLEĒ

(Maryís reason for being there)

Luke 2.22-38

 

We are now four weeks from our annual observance of Easter Sunday, the annual Christian celebration of the Lord Jesus Christís resurrection from the dead, three days and nights after His death on the cross. As a way of preparing for the Easter season, I want to direct your attention to the gospel according to Luke, chapter 2. When you find Luke chapter 2, stand for the reading of Godís Word:

 

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.

25     And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

26     And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lordís Christ.

27     And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,

28     Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29     Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

30     For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31     Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32     A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

33     And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

34     And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

35     (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

36     And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

37     And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

38     And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

 

This passage records the presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ before the Lord, at the Temple in Jerusalem, during His infancy, as Jewish couples with newborn infants were directed to do in the Law of Moses. Did you notice the characters identified in this Spirit-inspired account? Since Joseph was identified by name here only once (and that not prominently), focus your attention on the four people in attendance that day who were prominently named.

Of course, our Lord Jesus Christ was there, with His mother Mary. But two others are also mentioned, a man named Simeon and a woman named Anna.

Anyone who reads the Bible should ask questions as a means of better understanding what you read. Since we already know who was there when the Lord Jesus Christ was presented, in fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the question we should ask is why. This morning, let us confine ourselves to that single question. Why was Mary there that day? Luke 2.22-24 contains the answers to why Mary was present when Jesus was offered at the Temple:

 

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.

 

If you read Luke 2.22-24 very quickly, you will oftentimes miss the fact that Christís reason for being at the Temple, Simeonís reason for being at the Temple, and Annaís reason for being at the Temple, was completely different from Maryís reason for being there.

Let me read the portions of these three verses that apply only to Mary: Verse 22: ďAnd when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were accomplished . . . . Verse 24: ďAnd to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.Ē

The last half of verse 22, and all of verse 23, has no application to Mary at all. Let me explain it to you. It will help you to turn to Leviticus 12.1-8. Please pay very close attention to every word Moses wrote as I read aloud:

 

1      And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2      Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

3      And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

4      And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.

5      But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

6      And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

7      Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.

8      And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

 

Why did Mary go to the Temple and offer a sacrifice on that particular day? Because she was a good Jewish woman who obeyed the Bible. But why does the Bible call for her, and for women who have recently given birth to children, to offer a sacrifice for atonement?

As we review Leviticus 12.8, you tell me which word gives us the real clue as to why Mary, the Virgin mother of the Son of God, needed to offer a sacrifice:

 

8      And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

 

The word that reveals one reason why Mary was at the Temple that day, the word that reveals what her conscious purpose for being there happened to be, is the word ďSIN.Ē

Keep in mind that sacrifices are offered only for sinners. Scripture never records the Lord Jesus Christ offering any sacrifice for sins, except when He once offered Himself for our sins. He did not need to offer sacrifices for Himself. However, Mary did need to offer sacrifices. Why? Because she was a sinner. This exactly agrees with what she had said months earlier at her cousin Elizabethís home. Listen carefully to what she said to her cousin: ďMy soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.Ē

Did you take note of that? To her cousin Elizabeth she called God her Savior. But only sinners need a Savior. Mary acknowledged God to be her Savior because she was a sinner.

Would to God men and women would release their grip on Mary and fix their gaze upon the lifted up Christ. Maryís reason for being in the Temple was to offer a sacrifice in atonement for her own sins.

But look to Hebrews 10.4, where we see what Mary accomplished by her sacrifice in atonement for her sins: ďFor it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.Ē

My friends, Mary did nothing to save herself by giving an animal offering for her sins. To think otherwise is to completely misunderstand the system of offerings and animal sacrifices that comprised the Mosaic economy. This is because to atone for sins does not mean to take them away, but to cover them, to put them out of Godís sight for a while.

Now look at Hebrews 10.12: ďBut this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.Ē The blood of bulls and goats covered sins for a while under the Mosaic economy, but the blood of Jesus Christ was so efficacious that only His one sacrifice on the cross of Calvary was necessary, never to be repeated again.

Now look at Hebrews 10.18: ďNow where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.Ē Keep in mind that in Old Testament times, and it would be the same when the Lord Jesus Christ was a baby, a Jewish woman like Mary would offer a sacrifice to atone for her sins, to cover her sins (which is what the Hebrew word for atonement means).

But things changed with Christís crucifixion. After Christís sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, sins were properly dealt with by remitting them, by washing them away. Once sins are remitted, there is no longer any necessity for sin offerings of any kind to atone for sins (to temporarily cover sins and hide them from Godís sight), because the Lord Jesus Christís one offering for all sins is sufficient to completely remove sins.

 

SERMON:

 

Ever think about those individuals who played a prominent role in the life and earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ? This morning we zero in on one episode of interest that occurred shortly after our Lordís birth. After reading the passage, it is easy to conclude that Joseph is incidental to this episode in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is why he is not mentioned by name. Mary, however, is not incidental to this episode in Lukeís gospel. She figures so prominently in the gospel accounts of our Lordís birth and life among men that her role has frequently been misunderstood by a great many people.

On one hand, Mary is thought by many to be so central to the gospel that she has been given the title by some of mediatrix, as though she were the go-between to mediate between God and sinful men. Such exaggeration of her importance is without warrant in the Bible, which clearly shows the Lord Jesus Christ to be the sole and the sufficient mediator between God and men, as the Apostle Paul pointed out to Timothy in First Timothy 2.5: ďFor there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.Ē On the other hand, Mary is thought by many to be so marginal a figure that she has been relegated to almost complete obscurity, as though the gospel is somehow compromised if she is even mentioned, except during the Christmas season.

May I say that neither extreme is appropriate? Mary was not a prominent member of the Christian community, judging by the number of times her name is mentioned in scripture after the Lord Jesus Christís ascension to His Fatherís right hand. But to deny her recognition among those who were disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ prior to His crucifixion is to avoid the obvious. What is needed with respect to Mary is balance.

It is in the pursuit of balance that we ask why Mary was there when the Christ child was presented at the Temple. Four answers come to mind:

 

First, MARY WAS THERE BECAUSE SHE WAS CHOSEN TO BEAR CHRIST

 

Whether Mary was still a virgin more than a month after her first child was born, we do not know. However, we do know that when she conceived and was with child of the Holy Ghost, she had never been with any man. In response to the angelic visitation informing her of her pregnancy, she asked, ďHow shall this be, seeing I know not a man?Ē in Luke 1.34. To be sure, she was in a sense married, with the marriage contract arranged and agreed to. However, her marriage had never to that point been consummated. Therefore, she had no doubt in her own mind that the conception was miraculous and that she was undoubtedly the mother of the Son of God. She carried Him in her womb for nine months, and she was privileged to be His mother after delivering Him.

Her selection as the one who would bear the Christ child was none of her doing, but was the result of Godís sovereign choice. She had no control over the fact that she was born into the Jewish nation, of the tribe of Judah, of the house and lineage of David, and on top of that chosen to be the virgin overshadowed by the Holy Spirit of God, whose womb was the doorway from the throne room of heavenís glory to humanity here on earth. God chose her without asking her permission.

In one sense, no other mothers were there at the Temple in Jerusalem that day. Oh, there were hundreds of mothers milling in and around the Temple, with some of them certainly there to perform the same duties Mary was there to perform. But only Mary was the mother of Israelís Messiah. Only she was there because she had been chosen to bear the Christ child. Only she had arrived in Bethlehem just over a month ago in fulfillment of a centuries old prediction by the prophet Micah.

 

Next, MARY WAS THERE BECAUSE SHE WAS A JEWISH WOMAN UNDER THE LAW

 

Jewish Law, specifically what we call the Law of Moses, required that every woman appear at the Temple to make atonement for her sins following her purification after childbirth. Depending on whether a woman delivered a male child or a female child, she would require different times to accomplish her purification.

Delivery of a boy resulted in seven days of uncleanness, followed by circumcision on the eighth day, with a purification time of thirty-three days following that. If a girl were delivered, the time of uncleanness would be twice as long, with the purification time also being twice as long.

However, whether she delivered a boy or a girl, the Law required her to appear with a sin offering for the priest at the end of the prescribed purification time, so he could make atonement for her, with the result that she would then be ceremonially clean.

Luke 2.24 reads, ďAnd to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.Ē Of course, this refers to Leviticus 12.8, which we have already read concerning a required offering to atone for sins.

Some people strenuously object to ascribing this sin offering to Mary, to atone for her sins. However, the only alternative to the sin offering applying to Mary is to ascribe the offering for the Christ child, to atone for His sins. That, obviously, is not an option for any professing Christian, believing as we do that the Lord Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of God.

Thus, it is quite clear that Mary was at the Temple that day to obey the Mosaic Law directive that she, just like every other Jewish woman who had delivered a child, atone for her own sins as prescribed by the Law.

 

Third, MARY WAS THERE BECAUSE SHE WAS THE WITNESS OF THE EVENT

 

Lukeís gospel is somewhat different from the other three gospels, in this respect: Matthew wrote Matthew as an eyewitness account, John wrote John as an eyewitness account, and it is generally accepted that Mark used Simon Peter as the source for his gospel account. But Lukeís, alone of the gospel accounts, was the result of historical research, which he likely engaged in while the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in the city of Caesarea, occurring perhaps 30 years after Christís crucifixion, and more than 60 years after this presentation at the Temple that concerns us today.

During those several years of Paulís incarceration, Luke had ample opportunity to travel throughout the region to investigate and interview witnesses who were still alive. It was probably then that he met and discussed the entirety of our Lordís earthly life and ministry with Mary herself.

Not being an eyewitness, and the Apostle Paul not being an eyewitness, Luke would therefore have had to research the life and experiences of our Lord during His earthly ministry by interviewing those who were alive and on the scene when events of interest to him transpired.

After all, Simeon would almost certainly have died in the interim, as well as Anna, who was already very old when the Savior was born. However, Mary would be about 75 years old by this time, making her fully capable of rehearsing these momentous events with Luke for his gospel.

Therefore, God, knowing the end from the beginning, and having planned out things in advance, providentially placed Mary on the scene that our text deals with so she could be the witness Luke would need to provide the only record of the events that transpired on that eventful and prophetically important day.

 

Finally, MARY WAS THERE BECAUSE SHE KNEW WHO JESUS WAS

 

How did Mary know, really know, who the Lord Jesus Christ was? Let me recite a few of her experiences that would establish the fact of her sonís identity beyond any shadow of doubt.

First, she was a virgin. Who else would know that she was a virgin, among those who knew her? When she was discovered to be pregnant, she certainly told people she was a virgin. However, who would believe her? Who could believe her? However, she would know who her Son was, because she and only she would really, truly, and definitely, know she was a virgin.

Next, Mary knew because an angel had visited her. Yes, the angel also visited Joseph and prevented Joseph from divorcing Mary. However, the fact is that Mary had been visited by the angel. Let me read Luke 1.26-38 to you:

 

26     And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27     To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virginís name was Mary.

28     And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29     And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30     And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31     And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32     He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33     And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34     Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35     And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36     And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37     For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38     And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

 

Therefore, she knew that baby she held in her arms that day was not the result of having sex. Jesus was her virgin-conceived and virgin-born Son. That is number one. She also had this vivid memory of an angelic visitation, as we have just heard. That is number two. Finally, she had scripture.

According to the Bible, the Messiah would have to be a Jew. The Messiah would have to be of the tribe of Judah. The Messiah would have to be of the house and lineage of David. The Messiah would have to be born in Bethlehem. All of these things she would know from Godís Word.

How many more details surrounding the identity and the coming of Israelís Messiah did that young girl know? What further illumination did the Spirit of God provide for her? We do not know for sure. However, the experiences she had had that people did not know about, the experience she did not have that people thought she had, and her familiarity with predictive prophesies in the Bible concerning Israelís Messiah, all convinced her.

Thus, she knew who her baby was. She had known when they arrived in Bethlehem and she remembered Micahís prediction about Him being born in Bethlehem. She had known when the shepherds who had been watching over their flocks by night came and told her of the angelic choirís announcement of her Sonís birth.

She was convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that the Child she brought with her to Jerusalem, so she could give her prescribed sacrifice to the priest, and so she and Joseph could present Him to the Lord, simply had to be the King of the Jews, Israelís long awaited Messiah.

 

One of the marvelous benefits of Godís Word comes from our ability to look into the life of Mary, and to know what she knew, believe what she believed, and arrive at the same convictions she arrived at. In addition, her convictions concerning her beloved Son, Jesus Christ, were mirrored by the Apostle Paul, who wrote this inspired testimony to young Timothy, in Second Timothy 1.12: ďI know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.Ē

Mary was a young sinner who was chosen by God to give birth to the man who would be her savior. The Apostle Paul was a somewhat older and more experienced sinner who was chosen to be the Apostle of this same savior. What did the young Jewish virgin and the Jewish Pharisee have in common? They were both sinners and they both had Jesus Christ as their savior. What a glorious savior to be worthy of Maryís and Paulís trust. He is worthy of your trust, as well. However, have you trusted Him? Have you committed to Him the safekeeping of your eternal and undying soul?

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org