December 25, 2014

Luke 2:22 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.

It’s interesting how some traditions arise out of ignorance and then become more firmly embedded than the truth. Just as the Bible provides ample clues that Jesus was probably born in the fall, perhaps late September, few people pay any attention to them. Likewise, the magi are generally depicted as arriving while the shepherds were there worshiping the newborn Jesus, when this verse, along with the account of the magi in Matthew, makes it very clear that they didn’t show up for over a month after He was born. Leviticus 12, which is referenced right here when it talks about the sacrifice of a pair of doves, specifies that the period of purification after the birth of a son is 33 days. Since the Holy Family fled to Egypt right after the visit of the magi, it had to have been after the events described here. All of that notwithstanding, it’s still valid to celebrate the fact that the Son of God was born as a very human baby on this earth, and that God confirmed His plans for the child in various ways. Doctrinal purity is all well and good, but too often it overshadows the essential elements of “doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.” (Mica 6:8) I am often disturbed to read or hear sincere Christians doubt the salvation of someone else over a point of doctrine. If Jesus is truly God, truly man, and the only Savior and Lord to you, then you are my brother, however mistaken either of us might be on a whole host of other issues.

This has been a rising conviction all of my adult life. I have been given “the left foot of fellowship” over the issue of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I think my conviction goes even deeper than that. When I was raised immersed in the Bible, and various translations at that, I naturally feel I’ve got things pretty straight, but that’s no guarantee I’m always right. The Lord has opened my eyes on a number of issues over the years, and I’m sure I have still more blind spots. What breaks my heart is people who seem to care more about their doctrine than about people for whom Christ died, and sometimes even more than about Christ Himself. As a pastor I am to teach God’s truth as clearly and as boldly as He enables me to do, seeking to give people a firm foundation in the Word so that they can discern what is true and what is junk, but I am to do so with humility and grace. I am to remember that the Holy Spirit is a better teacher than I could ever be, (John 16:12-13, 1 John 2:27) and seek to be available for Him to use me in communicating truth to others.

Father, thank You for being so gracious to me. Thank You that the Christmas Eve service last night went well. Thank You especially for the mother, two daughters, and grandchildren that came, and that the mother is interested in further contact from the church, even though the daughters are just visiting for the holidays. Thank You for the firm foundation I see being laid in the believers here. I pray that in new people and old, Your Spirit would have free rein to bring repentance and faith, remaking us all into the likeness of Christ to have full, obedient fellowship with You. For Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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