Luke 2: 21-32 (NIV): On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, 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 pigeons." Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
It was required of Jewish families to circumcise their sons on their eighth day, and to take their children to the temple for special sacrifices at the appointed times. The sacrifice in this passage was called the “redemption of the firstborn” and it had to be paid in blood. Why? To recognize that they were only borrowing the child for a time, but he actually belonged to God.
Realizing that our children belong to God changes everything. We think we love our children, but God loves them more. We think we know what's best for them, but God does know what's best for them. We think they belong to us, but truly, we are only borrowing them for a time. God is the giver of life, and every life belongs to him.
So, we should give our children right back to God like Mary and Joseph did. This means we rear them in the “training and instruction” of the Lord. God has commanded us to teach our children what he requires. “Impress them on your children,” Deuteronomy 6:7 says. “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Children learn by watching - may our actions always show that God is our first priority.
Simeon realized that all of history rested on this child, and that the blood coursing through his veins would one day save all who believed. He knew, too, that God's promise was for all people.
Craig Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek United Methodist Church in Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church in Pert. Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. at Brushy Creek and 11 a.m. at Pert. See more of his columns at www.instantmessagelive.com.