Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Sunday February 2nd 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “HIS Presentation OUR Purification” (Luke 2:22-32)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow our Gospel is about Mary’s purification and our Lord’s presentation in the temple at 40-days old. The day is important in the sacred church year, but this does not change the fact that it also seems difficult to understand and certainly not easy to relate to. Why is it there in God’s Word?

The import of this text cannot be underestimated.

The answer to its importance also bears tremendous practical meaning for us. In short, the text teaches us that our sin makes us unclean and impure, but while Mary came to the temple for her purification, she also came with Christ. In accompanying His mother, Mary’s true purification was in her 40 day old child and in Him, we are purified as well.

Christ was also presented for you dear Christian and on account of this, your every need bound to God’s acceptance and love for you is made secure. Christ was presented for the impure ones…He came for sinners and now we are the pure ones…all because of Jesus!

Let us gather to receive Word and Sacrament and be strengthened in our faith!

Here is an excerpt from tomorrow’s sermon:

Part I: But childbirth has other implications:

A. In accord with what you heard from Genesis 3, it is a reminder of sin having come into the world.

B. And the Hebrews – unlike their pagan and animistic neighbors who regarded the blood of the woman giving birth as containing super-natural life-power that could be used in ritual, magical spells, and sorcery (Kleinig, John W. Concordia Commentary: Leviticus. St. Louis: CPH, 266) – God’s people did not go along with this up-side-down view. Instead they knew that the resultant blood of childbirth was that of fallen humanity, and they knew that the pain associated with childbirth was a reminder of the curse of sin.

C. Inevitably, therefore, the woman giving birth was rendered unclean and impure. For one week after childbirth the woman had to be separated from everyone else — could not remain in normal family life — and if she had a son she remained in ritual quarantine for 33 days: for 40 days she could not have access to anything holy.

D. Consider how Isaiah connects the blood of a woman associated with “a polluted garment” with the universal condition of our sin:

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” – Isaiah 64:6

E. That is, all of us have this same condition of being unclean and impure. All of us have passed through the blood of sinful humanity and “[s]urely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

F. And this condition is still in us. That’s what Scripture calls the sinful nature. There is this unfortunate tendency in modern Christian circles to downplay this reality and of course the world wants to ignore it altogether…but it’s there…even in the born-again believer the sinful flesh remains and it is the reason we continue to struggle with those “same old sins”…and every single day we must kill the old sinful flesh, drown it, and crucify it, because it keeps rearing its ugly head. This is why we struggle and this is why we resist the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

Part II: The Lord, however, provides a cure for the sin from conception and childbirth through the conception and childbirth of One Child in particular!

A. In other words, childbirth is also a great blessing, because in Genesis God made a promise that the seed of the woman was going to crush the devil’s head (Gen 3:15). Through faith in this child, salvation is had even through child-bearing (1st Timothy 2:15)!…so that what was once associated with sin is now a reminder that God came through women to save all men!

B. I say “God came through women” because have you ever noticed some of the key great great grandmothers of Jesus mentioned in our Lord’s genealogy in St. Matthew’s Gospel? Jesus came through sinners to save sinners! God is making sure that you know the one qualification you must have in order to be saved: you MUST be a sinner! Then you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus came for the likes of you! To comfort you and to give you confidence in the Gospel the Word tells us about His grandmothers (all in Matthew chapter 1):

1. Grandma Tamar who presented herself as a prostitute.
2. Grandma Rahab who was actually a prostitute.
3. Grandma Ruth who was an unclean outsider, a non-Israelite.
4. Grandma “wife of Uriah” (aka Grandma Bathsheba with whom King David committed adultery).

These are Jesus’ grandmothers to inform you that our Savior really did come for sinners.

In Jesus’ Love,


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