Joshua 16-18 Luke 2:1-24
“Mary and Joseph also went to offer a sacrifice, as the law of the Lord says: ‘You must sacrifice two doves or two young pigeons.’” (Luke 2:24)
Whenever members of the royal family do something it’s usually a big splash. When there was a festival or a celebration in ancient Israel, the king would take from his wealth and sacrifice many bulls and lambs to show his piety and to feed the people. It’s easy to expect great things from royalty. When people talked about Jesus being the King of kings, and Lord of lords, it’s hard to imagine when you look back at the beginnings. He was born in a stable and put to rest in a feeding trough. Then, when the time for the sacrifice of purification came, it wasn’t accompanied by sacrifices of flocks of sheep, nor even one lamb and one pigeon – the normal sacrifice. Instead, Mary and Joseph made the sacrifice that was allowed as an exception due to poverty. Leviticus 12:8 begins the rules for this sacrifice by noting: “If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons….”
It’s easy to look down on those in poverty, especially when you have more than enough to get by. Joseph made a living, but not much of one. I wonder if his decision to stay with Mary caused people to take their business to other carpenters. Sometimes people are poor due to their own choices of career. They work hard, but their chosen career doesn’t bring much income. Sometimes people are hit by hard times and jobs are lost, or scarce. Sometimes people have health issues that prevent them from working. And, we can all tell apocryphal stories of those who are poor because they just won’t work. When you look at Jesus, you don’t see Him differentiating, perhaps because He grew up, not as a king, but in poverty. Paul deals with those who won’t work, but the problem we have in the church is that we look at anyone not working and put them in that category. Rather than judging people who are living in poverty, perhaps we should minister to them. Jesus died for them on the cross also. If God loves them, so should we. If God offers them the gift of salvation, we should treat people in poverty as brothers and sisters. If God provides for us, shouldn’t we seek to imitate God and help provide for others.
Lord, open my eyes to those in need around me. Give me wisdom as I find ways to minister and show them your love.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.