After Christmas

Bible Book: Luke  2 : 21-24
Subject: New Year; Christian Living; Obedience; Faithfulness

I found an interesting poem this week written by an anonymous lady. It is called, “’Twas the Month after Christmas”.

The poem begins with the lines:

‘Twas the month after Christmas,

And all through the house,

Nothing would fit me,

Not even a blouse,

The cookies I’d nibbled

The eggnog I’d taste,

At the holiday parties,

Had gone to my waist

The poem goes on and finishes with this stanza:

Unable to giggle,

No longer a riot,

Happy New Year to all,

And to all a good diet[i]

It does not take long after the 25th of December for people to forget all of the reason for the season, and move on to their plans for the year to come. The reality is, however, that the meaning and truth of the birth of Christ is something that ought to fill our hearts long after Christmas. In Luke chapter two, we find a passage that shares with us some important events in the life of our Lord Jesus, when He was just an infant. Only a few weeks after His birth, His mother and Joseph carried Him to the Temple and Luke records for us the details of what occurred there. I want us to focus on this particular passage, and consider its meaning, and what it has to say to us about Jesus after Christmas.

First of all, consider with me:


Compared to its context, with the manger scene before it, and the story of godly Simeon following it, the verses of our text may not seem all that significant. Though they may only look like a sort of segue, they are in fact very important to the overall truth of who Jesus was and is, and what He came to do. In His circumcision and presentation at the Temple, we are reminded of Christ’s relationship to the Old Testament Law. Consider this with me.

First of all, this passage points us to the fact that:

A. Jesus followed the Law

As you read through the gospels you quickly realize that Jesus was no friend of the Jewish religious leaders of His day. He had no respect for their superficial self-righteousness, and He paid no regard to the vain traditions that they had heaped upon the original Law that had been given through Moses.

While the religious leaders would have considered Jesus to be a radical and a rebel, the reality is that He was very careful to obey all of the Laws of God that had been given to His people. This obedience began when He was just an infant. In fact, in the second half of this chapter, the word “law” appears some five times. His circumcision, presentation at the Temple, and the sacrifice given by Mary and Joseph were all in response to what Law prescribed in the Old Testament.

In Luke 16:17, Jesus upheld the authority of the Law saying, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” In Matthew 23:23, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for leaving out what He called “the weightier matters of the law.”

Then, in John 8:29, Jesus confirmed His observance of the Law when He said that He always did those things which pleased His Father. The laws and restrictions given in the Old Testament through Moses were the commands of God for His people, Israel.

When Jesus entered the human family, through the Hebrew race, He did not treat what God had previously said as unimportant or irrelevant. No, throughout His life He responded with perfect obedience to the Law of God and to its Holy demands.

In an age where nobody wants restrictions, and people don’t like a God who commands or demands anything from them, we would be wise to remember the life of our Lord. He submitted to the authority of God’s Word.

Our text is important because it points us to the fact that Jesus followed the Law, but it also reminds us of the fact that:

B. Jesus fulfilled the Law

In Matthew 5:17 Jesus made a very important statement about His relationship to the Law of Moses. He said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” In other words, the sinless perfection that the Law demanded was finally and fully met in the person of Jesus Christ. From the time when he was barely a month old, and His parents carried Him to the Temple, to the day He cried, “It is finished,” while hanging on the tree, Jesus perfectly fulfilled the demands of the Law.

No man before Him and after Him, no matter how good, decent, and moral they may have been, has ever been able to perfectly keep the Law of God. While all have sinned, and fallen short of what God has demanded in His Law, Jesus Christ has died the sinner’s death, and offered His perfection in the place of our rebellion. By keeping all of the Law Himself, Christ has freed us from the burden of trying to keep it ourselves. In other words, I don’t have to be perfect because He has already done it for me! That is why Paul says in Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

As we read about the baby Jesus going through these rituals of the Law, we ought to shout for joy that He has done for us what we could never do for ourselves!

He is our grand Champion, finishing a course we never could have run, defeating a foe that promised our death, and accomplishing a feat we never could have achieved.

Saintly Matthew Henry says of Jesus’ submission to the Law, “…he put his neck under that yoke, though it was a heavy yoke…Christ submitted to it, that he might with better grace cancel it, and set it aside for us.”[ii]

Though we no longer uphold the religious rituals recorded in this text, we ought to recognize that Jesus obeyed them all for the sake of our salvation! It is Jesus Christ’s perfect obedience to the Law that shows us how important this passage is. As we look at it again, I want you to consider further with me:


As you read over this scene that Luke records for us in this text, if you consider what is going on in light of who Jesus is, there are some interesting ironies that appear.

In one of his books, D.A. Carson talks about the use of irony in some of the biblical writings. He says that the writers will use ironies to, “…show attentive readers what is really going on.”[iii]

I want you to consider some of the ironies we see in this text, and how they help us to understand what is really going on in these verses. Consider firstly:

A. The irony of the practice

Look again at verse 21. It says, “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS…”

Following the instructions that God gave to Abraham in Genesis 17:12, on the eighth day of Jesus’ life, he underwent the practice of circumcision, just like every other good Jewish baby boy of His day. Unlike today, where circumcision is more a medical procedure than a religious one, in the Bible, circumcision was an important symbol for the Jewish people. It was a sign of the covenant that God had made with Abraham. The cutting back of the flesh signified their faith and dependence on the one, true God.

Do you see the irony here? Jesus Christ, according to Hebrews 12:24 is the Mediator of the New Covenant. Yet, we find Him who would do away with the Old Covenant entering into it after His birth. He who needed no covenant with God, entered into the Old Covenant so that He might offer to us a New and Better Covenant!

Consider not only the irony of the practice recorded here, but consider further:

B. The irony of the presentation

Look now at verse 22. It says, “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord.”

After a period of days, again following the Biblical guidelines, Mary and Joseph carried Jesus to Jerusalem, into the Temple, in order to present Him to the Lord.

Do you see the irony in this? He is the Lord! They were carrying Him who had just come from the Father to be presented back to the Father!

One old writer said, “Thus, then, [they brought] the Lord of the Temple to the Temple of the Lord.”[iv]

The Temple was the place where men would go to do business with God. Here we see Christ; the One whose ministry would replace the Temple, being carried to the Temple to meet with the very God He was Himself!

There is irony in the practice, and irony in the presentation, but consider with me also:

C. The irony of the price

In verse 24, Luke tells an additional reason they had come to the Temple. He says, “And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” The particular “Law of the Lord” that Luke is referring to here is found in Leviticus 12. The Law essentially says that after a woman has given birth, she is ceremonially unclean. To remedy this uncleanness, she is to offer a lamb as a sacrifice at the Temple. If she is unable to afford a lamb, she is permitted to offer two young pigeons instead.

Now picture this in your mind. Mary and Joseph were poor, and could not afford to offer a lamb for her cleansing. So Luke tells us they offered the secondary offering of the turtledoves instead. They cannot afford a lamb, and yet the baby she was holding was none other than the Lamb of God which would take away the sins of the world. His mother offered two small birds for her own cleansing, even while nursing Him whose blood would fully and finally cleanse not only her sin, but ours as well!

These are but a few of the ironies of this infant who had lived an eternity prior to his birth. Though another Christmas is behind us, may we always wonder at the miracle that is our Lord Jesus and His birth!

Consider one more thing we draw from this passage. Consider not only how important this passage is, and how ironic this passage is, but consider with me lastly:


So far we have looked at this text in light of the theology it teaches us, and we are reminded of Christ’s obedience to the Law. We have also seen the ironies of this text, and the wonder of the infant Jesus going through rituals that His own deity superseded and overshadowed. Now I want to consider this text in light of what it can teach us practically. Consider a couple of lessons we draw from what Luke records for us here. First of all:

A. There is a message for our homes

While Christ is the center of this passage, there is something to be learned from His earthly parents. Mary and Joseph may not have had much to give our Lord materially, but they were obviously determined to provide Him a home in which the things of God were a priority. As early as possible, they carried Him to the Temple. There they presented Him to the Lord, and devoted Him to the service of Jehovah.

Oh how we need more parents like these in this day! Too many parents today give their children everything but the things of God. May we as parents learn from Mary and Joseph! May we raise our children in the things of the Lord, and may we devote them to His service and kingdom!

According to one list that I found, the most popular toy this Christmas is the Xbox Kinect video game system. With a price tag starting at $399, it is safe to say that we have come a long way from a stocking filled with candy. What is sad is that many parents will spend $400 on a game this year, after they have spent nothing on the spiritual development of their children.

There is a message for our homes in the passage before us. I would add further, this is an instructive passage when you consider that:

B. There is a message for our hearts

Look again at the last part of verse 21. It says, “…his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” According to Jewish tradition, a baby boy was not named until his circumcision. Jesus was actually given His name before His conception.

In Matthew chapter one, the angel appeared to Joseph and told him what was going to happen with his future wife, Mary. In verse 21 of that chapter, the angel said, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

The phrase, “…he shall save his people from their sins” was an explanation of the why the child would be called Jesus. The name “Jesus” is actually the Hebrew name, Yeshua, which means “Jehovah saves”. When Jesus was formally given His name, there was a reminder of why He came. He came to save us from our sins! He is the salvation of Jehovah!

Though Christmas is behind us, I pray we have not forgotten what the message of Christmas means to us personally. Have you taken to heart the message of Jesus and His salvation? Have you believed the gospel, and received the pardon that Jesus purchased for you at the cross? If you have, then Christmas may be over, but it is never forgotten!


Pretty soon all the wrapping paper will be put up, the trees will come down, and the holiday season will give way to the spring of a new year. While you may not remember what gifts you gave or got, I pray you will not forget the Christ of Christmas!

Luke’s record reminds us that He was not only born, but He lived. After Christmas, Christ submitted to the Law, lived perfectly, and eventually suffered and died in our place on the cross. He rose from the dead, and still lives all these years later to save all those who will come to Him in faith. Christmas may be over, but the Christ of Christmas abides forever! May we not forget Him.


[i] “’Twas the Month after Christmas”,, accessed 12/22/10,

[ii] Henry, Matthew, “Matthew Henry Bible Commentary”,, accessed 12/23/10,

[iii] Carson, D.A., Scandalous, (Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2010), Amazon Kindle edition

[iv] St. Bonaventura, quoted by Pentecost, J. Dwight, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, (Academie Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1981), p. 64