Childbirth: The Law of Cleansing
Luke 2:21-24- “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her [Mary’s] purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 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.”
Levitical Law of Uncleanness
In Luke chapter 2, we read that after the Lord Jesus was born into the world, Mary came to Jerusalem to offer the required sacrifices according to the law of Moses (v.22-24). Leviticus chapter 12 states that any childbirth rendered the mother ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 12)—which is to say for a space of time she was not permitted to participate in Passover, offerings, and was to avoid the sanctuary. For a male, the mother was unclean a total of 7 days following which were 33 days of purification—these numbers were doubled in the case of a female child. Uncleanness contracted in childbirth is a reminder to us that each one born from the lineage of Adam is born in sin (Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:12-18).
The Exception Clause
According to the law, after the days of her purification (in Mary’s case 33 days), a woman was to bring 2 offerings: a BURNT offering and a SIN offering. The burnt offering was to be a young lamb, but if the offerer was not able to afford a lamb, the poor offerer may bring a turtle dove or a pigeon instead (Leviticus 12:8). It is important to note that the sin offering was to only be of a turtle dove or pigeon—a subtle reminder that the payment for sin is the same for all, rich or poor. These were the 2 offerings Mary brought to Jerusalem in Luke 2.
The Exceptional Lamb
From this passage we see that the Lord Jesus was born of a woman, and born under the law (Galatians 4:4). Mary’s offerings illustrate this fact as she keeps to the law of Moses. Astounding thought that God Himself took upon Him the form of servant (Philippians 2:7) clothing deity with humanity and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3). When He came, he chose not the grandeur of a family from high society to bolster His reputation at the onset of His ministry. Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9), and He chose instead to be born to a poor virgin girl. This young girl was in such poverty that she could not even afford the lamb for her burnt offering, so she availed herself of the exception and offered 2 turtle doves—one for a burnt offering and one for the sin offering. How humbling this must have been, not to be able to bring a lamb! And yet, all the while she did have a lamb, for she brought with her THE Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), the Lamb who will carry into eternity the marks of suffering from which poured the precious blood that is our redemption and which cleanses us from all sin (I Peter 1:19, I John 1:7). The Levitical offering for purification was only a temporary type to cover uncleanness until the true Lamb of God would come to eternally wash away the uncleanness we contract consequent to being born to the race of Adam. Truly our voices rise with those who surround the throne in Revelation 5: “Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain!”