Born of Woman, Born under the Law
Galatians 4:4 tells us, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” This crucial theological truth written by the Apostle Paul to the churches in Galatia is based upon the historical account of our Lord’s circumcision and purification in the temple which happened some fifty years prior. It is a pity that this passage does not get the recognition that it deserves in evangelical churches; in the more liturgical churches, it is accorded a feast and given to the celebration of the “Holy Family.” And why not? We have here Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus presenting themselves in the temple to perform the rites which the law of God required; that is, they are now a family of father, mother, and child, going to church, worshiping, and fulfilling their religious obligations—just like Christian families do today. When one considers the weight that is given by evangelicals to what is certainly the most expansive passage in Scripture on Christian families in Ephesians 5:22-6:4, how can this passage of our Lord’s presentation in the temple be so easily overlooked?
But far more than nostalgia is going on here. Our Lord is doing here what he would do throughout his life—being one of us, identifying himself with us, living our life under the same obligations (law), and ultimately taking our place on the cross. It amazes me that our God was not ashamed to live our life from conception to the grave. Like us, he developed from an embryo in the womb and at full term endured the bloodbath of birth. I do believe that “crying he made.” From this they must be purified as the Mosaic law required of all newborns (Leviticus 12). But why must Jesus undergo purification? For the same reason he would undergo baptism thirty years later and endure a bloody death on the cross three years after that—the sinless one identifying himself with the sinful ones and thereby fulfilling all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Our God takes not only our sins but our flesh and blood—our very earthiness upon himself—and redeemed us.
And finally there is Simeon and Anna. Behold the reward for holiness! Behold the reward for shunning the things of this world and living in anticipation of our Lord’s coming! See how they consider their lives complete in the light of the countenance of this baby’s face! (Allow me to recommend Simeon’s words as a nighttime prayer for you as it has been for centuries.) But let us strive for holiness; perhaps we too shall see the Lord.