Presentation of Jesus
This year, the celebration to remember the presentation of Jesus at the Temple was February 2, 2018. But what does being presented at the Temple mean and how does this play a role in modern day baby dedications?
In our church, we have baby dedications. Baby dedications are a time when parents come to publicly promise to raise that child according to the Word of God. During this ceremony, part of the dedication references parents in the Bible who also dedicated their children to the Lord, specifically Hannah and Mary. Until recent personal study, I thought Mary and Joseph had taken Jesus to the Temple for a dedication, but that is not the whole story.
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeon.’” Luke 2: 22-24 NKJV
There were two primary reasons they took Jesus with them to the Temple. The first reason was for Joseph and Mary to redeem their first-born son and the second reason was for the purification of Mary.
Redemption of the First Born
According to the law, each first-born son was to be redeemed thirty days after birth along with a five-shekel offering (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16; Numbers 18:15). This redemption ceremony involved the father handing the baby to the priest for his blessing. Some scholars speculate that Simeon was the priest overseeing the blessing of Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:25-35).
So, he [Simeon] came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God… Luke 2:27-28 NKJV.
Together, Joseph and Mary redeemed Jesus, thus fulfilling the law. However, there was also something Mary would be doing at the Temple as a new mother: her purification.
Purification of Mary
According to biblical law, a woman who had given birth was required to immerse herself and bring an offering to the Lord. The time of this trip was determined by the sex of the child. If you had a daughter, you waited 80 days. If you had a son, you waited 40 days. Depending on the financial ability of the woman, her offering would be either a lamb or two turtledoves. You can read more about this in Leviticus 12:1-8.
Mary went to the Temple to fulfil the law:
Now when the days of Mary’s purification (according to the law of Moses) were completed, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who 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.” Luke 2:22-24 NKJV
Like Mary and Joseph, as parents we want to commit to raising our children to love and serve God. In the same way that we exchange vows on our wedding day, the same is true for the day we dedicate our children to the Lord. This is more than just a one-time event. For some, a baby dedication was not an option, but you still vow and commit to raising your child in accordance with the Word of God, making this promise between you and the Lord. Either way, we need the Lord’s help and guidance to be the parents our children need each day. Each day we will re-commit our children to God and seek His guidance in reaching, teaching, and growing our children to love and serve Him.
How important is it that we deliberately dedicate our children to the Lord?