A Question I Was Asked:

Why Did the Virgin Mary and Joseph Need to Make Sacrifices If They Were Blameless?

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Why did the Virgin Mary and Joseph have to sacrifice a dove if the scripture declares they were so blameless? They were completely human. This is my question.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, it's a good question, but you are forgetting about the laws of the old covenant!

The Israelites/Jews were, of course, under the Mosaic Law which stated that a woman giving birth was ceremonially unclean for a prescribed number of days, with an additional number of days required for her purification. At the conclusion of the purification period a burnt offering and a sin offering were to be made for her: a young ram and a turtledove or a young pigeon, or two turtledoves or two young pigeons (perhaps as the circumstances of the parents might financially allow). (Leviticus 12:1-8).

In our day the old covenant which gave these laws to Israel no longer exists. In our day all that is required is for any such woman to observe scrupulous cleanliness.

Under the old covenant when a mother gave birth, in addition to bathing, a sin offering was necessary, so that God's priest might make atonement in behalf of the person. Jesus' mother Mary thus confessed to her hereditary sinfulness, acknowledging that she was not sinless or "immaculate" by offering a sin-atoning sacrifice after giving birth to her firstborn. (Luke 2:22-24).

Also worth noting here that - contrary to tradition - the Magi did not visit Jesus at the manger on the night of his birth (although the shepherds did). They came some months later and visited him as a 'child' in his 'house.' This is clearly verified by the fact that Herod, when seeking to have the young child killed, ordered the slaughter of all boys two years of age and under throughout Bethlehem and its districts. He targeted that age group by calculating "according to the time that he had carefully ascertained from the astrologers." -Matthew 2:16.

Had these astrologers visited Jesus on the night of his birth and brought gold and other valuable gifts, it is unlikely that Mary would have offered only two birds 40 days later when she presented Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:22-24) This was a provision in the Law for poor people who could not afford a young ram. (Leviticus 12:6-8) However, these valuable gifts may well have been timely and useful in financing the stay of Jesus' family in Egypt. -Matthew 2:13-15.

Robin A. Brace. July 9th, 2019.