Sunday January 29, 2006 | Greg Boyd
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
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 pigeons."
God’s love and mercy for us is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ did not come to hold back the wrath of God; rather He came to deliver us from the bondage of Satan. Through sin, we are made slaves to Satan’s dominion. However, through Christ’s death on the cross, we are bought back from the power of sin and death. The sacrifices of the Old Testament remind us of the consequences of sin and point to a time when Christ would pay the price of sin for all who choose to believe in Him.
God’s love and mercy for us is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ did not come to hold back the wrath of God; rather he came to deliver us from the bondage of Satan. Through sin, we are made slaves to Satan’s dominion. However, through Christ’s death on the cross, we are bought back from the power of sin and death. The sacrifices of the Old Testament remind us of the consequences of sin and point to a time when Christ would pay the price for all who choose to believe in him.
In the Old Testament and up to the time of Jesus, sacrifices were made to God. Joseph and Mary were Israelites and were obedient to the Law of Moses. According to the customs of the Jewish culture, they circumcised Jesus, consecrated him in the temple and offered the sacrifices of purification that were required according to Exodus 13.
Pigeons or doves are one example of animals sacrificed to visibly show that the wages of sin are death. But, they also profoundly foreshadowed the coming of Christ and his atoning death for all humanity on the cross. He was the final sacrifice required by the law to restore us to fellowship with God, and deliver us from the bondage of sin and death. The pigeons being sacrificed at Jesus’ consecration pointed ahead to a time when he would conquer death forever.
The question, “Why did Jesus have to die?” can be answered as we look at the full character of God revealed through Jesus Christ. God the Father demonstrated every aspect of his character through his Son. Therefore, we can be assured that God’s heart grieves our sin, and does not take pleasure in pouring out his wrath on humanity. His true and perfect will for us is a love relationship with him. Because of his great love and mercy for us, God offered his Son as a ransom for us.
The law stipulates that sin leads to death and eternal separation from God (reference Romans 6:23). Sacrificial Laws were a vivid way that God reminded Israel of the consequences of sin. The sacrifices were not meant to appease God’s wrath toward mankind. Instead sacrifices expressed God’s wrath towards sin, because of his unsurpassable love for us. God’s wrath burns against sin, but his love passionately burns for us. In John 8:34 it says, “everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Sin brings us under the dominion of Satan. Satan is described in the Bible as the father of all sin. When we sin, we deliberately choose to separate ourselves from God and place ourselves under Satan’s power. Our lives are then held hostage to the lies and schemes of the Devil.
If this were the end there would be no salvation. Thankfully, there is good news! Surpassing the power of our willful bondage to sin, there is a self-sacrificial love that can redeem us. The self-sacrificial love of God is greater than the law. Before creation, God’s desire has been for us to be in a passionate love relationship with him. Jesus died in our place so that by the shedding of his innocent blood, we could be declared righteous, and enter into this love relationship with God. The purpose of Christ’s death was not to appease a vengeful God, rather to express God’s love for us. This love defeats all principalities and powers that have enslaved us through our sin. If we choose to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, our sins will be nailed to the cross, and we will be brought into an eternal love relationship with Him.