Circumcision —Redemption —Purification.
Aimee would be the one I would choose to talk about this first one. First of all…she’s a nurse. Having worked in a hospital closely with newborns, she knows about the circumcising process. I remember clearly when my oldest daughter’s second baby boy was born. Weighing in at a whopping 2 pounds and 7 ounces, with his heart condition, he was not considered healthy enough for the procedure until he was well over one year old. He was then old enough to know that he was hurting when he woke up. The pain he felt had to be excruciating. I know his cries were excruciating to my heart.
The cutting away of flesh is painful. Especially since there is sensitivity–or feelings in the skin. Isn’t it that way with us? Painful when we are under the circumcising knife of the Holy Spirit. As it cuts away the unnecessary of our lives to reveal a heart more tender toward Christ than ever before.
I love the way this read in the New Living Translation: When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. It was a spiritual procedure—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. Colossians 2:11-13 (emphasis mine)
I really wanted to end that with a huge exclamation point!!! Or maybe three!!! I am so unworthy of any thing He has done…2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That verse popped in my heart and I searched it out (not knowing exactly where it was) and the tears that had already poured from yesterday’s devotion…started up again!
I don’t know if Mary and Joseph could have possibly understood what the ritual of their customs could possibly mean for me, today, living in Florida, a sinner. Saved by the very grace that God’s only Son offered through His shed blood.
I guess before reading this particular devotion, I had always assumed that the circumcision of Christ and the presentation of Christ at the temple happened at the same time. But according to Levitical Law, this was not so. Beth sites Leviticus 12:1-8; “waiting thirty-three days” and not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification were over–at first glance might seem a bit extreme. However, one commentary mentioned that “possibly” the young mother was thankful for this time of rest and peace from the normal hustle bustle of daily activities and rituals.
I can’t help but compare it to our lives today and wonder for the life of me—how in the world would she get what she needed from Wal-Mart or Target? Surely Joseph wouldn’t know the exact type of personal items, nor the brand of diapers and ointment she preferred…sorry, my mind strayed a bit.
Reading of redemption and purification is what brought the tears out today. Of all that God made provisions for. The plans–the extreme He was willing to go to for a lost world. Though a lamb was the preferred sacrifice, provision was made in the law for those who were unable to afford a lamb. Joseph and Mary brought, as Beth said, “the poverty version of sacrifice”. I think they were watching every single coin. Not knowing how long they would be there, nor if he could find work if they needed to stay longer, he would provide for his family to the best of his ability. Nothing would be wasted. He purchased the best he could afford on the budget that he had, for the sacrifice to offer the priest for Mary’s purification. (Leviticus 12:6-8)
I have to share this last passage of scripture for today. I cannot tell you what has rolled over and over in my soul in studying this. I have pondered many aspects of the circumcision, redemption and purification today, but when I was reading the scripture that Beth highlighted at the end, I went just above it—and oh the sweetness of the the LORD God watered my eyes and soul.
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right.” Titus 2:11-14 NLT
I leave you to think on the Gift. The blessed HOPE. The life of redemption from sin. It belongs to each of us. Ours for the asking. And receiving. Bless you girls! I love you all!
Keeping the Faith,
Picture from the National Gallery: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple 1623 GUERCINO (1591 – 1666)