Monday, December 13, 2010

Jewish Customs: Through Mary's Eyes

Through her journal, Mary brings readers on a journey as she, Joseph and baby Jesus take part in many of the Jewish customs and ceremonies of today. As parents living under the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph were required to perform certain ceremonies. Although Jesus was God’s son, Mary never assumed her son might be exempt from these requirements:

“Evidently God wants His son to go through the same experiences and emotions as every other boy. Until I am aware of the requirements of a Messiah, I must treat him as an ordinary child.”

According to Jewish law, a male baby must be circumcised eight days after the birth. Since Mary would be considered unclean until after her purification ceremony, she could not participate, but could only imagine the scene:

“I can picture the priest taking Joseph’s strong steady hand and skillfully guiding it until the first few drops of precious blood were shed. The first tears of pain were also. At that time Joseph told the priest his name is Jesus… Today Jesus became an infant Jew; a son of the family of David.”

No more than 33 days after the circumcision, Jewish women must be purified from their bleeding through a cleansing ceremony in the temple:

“I dropped my offering into the huge trumpets… the incense floated into the blue morning sky. I am considered Levitically clean from my flow of blood; free of stain. What a wonderful feeling.”

After Mary’s cleansing, Jesus was presented in the temple for the redemption ceremony:

“The first-born child is, according to the Law of Moses, God’s property… the father must offer the male son to God.”

By the Law of Moses, the first-born male must be bought back from God through a sacrifice of an unblemished lamb. If the family could not afford a lamb, two doves would be acceptable. The entire day, Mary anticipated a more worthy sacrifice than the two doves they could afford.

“The unblemished lamb I had hoped would miraculously appear did not. With our 16 shekels we purchased two turtledoves… Apparently God did not agree with the importance I had placed on the item to be sacrificed.”

She and Joseph walked to the door of the Court of Women where, by law, Mary had to wait as Joseph took Jesus to the Gate of the Firstborn in the Court of Priests to present Jesus for the redemption ceremony:

“The priest examined our child and found him to be free of bodily blemishes. Joseph redeemed him with five shekels and two doves. Watching from a distance, I could only imagine the relief and pride on Joseph’s face.”

Mary obediently followed the Jewish customs because they were required by God. Although Jesus may have helped write most of these commands, Mary realized God expected his son to be treated as all other Jewish children. As an earthly son, Jesus participated in the same life experiences as children today.

Join Mary on her magnificent journey through the first 30 years of Jesus’ life in Jesus My Son: Mary’s Journal of Jesus’ Early Life, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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