Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Circumcision and Name of Jesus



Circumcision and Name of Jesus

January 1, 2012
Text: Luke 2:21

Merry Christmas! Yes, it’s still Christmas. You’ve packed up all the decorations too early. It’s only the 8th Day of Christmas for the Church. The 8th Day. That ought to ring a bell if you attended our Family Vacation Bible School a couple years ago. The 8th Day. That’s the day a newborn baby boy was circumcised in the Old Testament. Circumcision, which was the Old Testament type for Baptism, included the newborn in the covenant God had made with His holy people Israel, the Old Testament Church. The 8th Day. What’s the significance? God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them in 6 days, and on the 7th day, He took a Sabbath, He rested. Then on the 8th day, the first day of the new week, creation got busy and got going. But as we know, things quickly took a turn for the worse when our first parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God and fell into sin. So God sent His Son, to be born of a Virgin, the woman’s offspring who would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15), the whole reason we celebrate Christmas. Our Lord Jesus was born to undo all the damage Adam did and to bring about a new creation. Holy Week, Jesus sweats drops of blood in the garden. It’s a redo of Eden. He is arrested, tried, beaten, mocked, spat upon, clothed in purple and crowned with thorns, and made to carry His own cross out of the city to the place of crucifixion. He is nailed to the wood, lifted up, and left to die as a criminal, between two wretched criminals, for criminals, for sinners, for you. It is Friday, the 6th day. On the seventh day, He fulfills the Sabbath. He rests in the grave. Ah, but then there is the 8th Day, Sunday, the first day of the new week, the first day of the new creation. Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!!

“And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21; ESV). Merry Christmas. On the Eighth Day of Christmas your True Love, your Lord, gives to you two mighty powerful gifts. He gives you the first drops of His holy, precious blood, fulfilling the Law of circumcision for you, in your place, and in His flesh including you in God’s covenant with His holy people Israel, the holy Christian Church. That’s the first gift. Then there is His Name, Jesus. ̀Ιησους in Greek, יהושע, Joshua in Hebrew, it means YHWH, the LORD, saves. “(Y)ou shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). That is the second gift, His Name, which indicates His divine mission. He is born to save you and all people from your sins, from the fall of Adam and Eve, original sin, from your actual sins, the bad things you do and the good things you should do but don’t. He comes to save you from all of that and from the death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal, that is sin’s wages. This is the best Christmas gift you have ever received. It is the only Christmas gift that matters, wrapped in swaddling cloths and human flesh and blood. God is a man. And He is born to save you.

The two gifts on this 8th Day of Christmas go together. A Jewish boy receives his name when he is circumcised, not unlike the ancient Christian custom of giving a child his or her name at Baptism. We still do this. Yes, yes, we name the child already at the hospital, I understand, but we still talk about your Christian name. In the baptismal rite, the pastor still asks the baptismal candidate, “How are you named?” And the sponsors, or the candidate himself, if he is old enough, respond with his given name, what we now call after Baptism his “Christian name.” So on the 8th Day our Lord receives the Sacrament of circumcision and is named Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.

Circumcision, as I said, is the Old Testament type, foreshadowing, of Christian Baptism. We no longer circumcise as a religious custom, because our Lord has fulfilled circumcision for us in His flesh, and replaced it with Holy Baptism. And as a side note, circumcising baby boys for medical reasons is a matter of Christian freedom. You can do it, or not do it, according to your own judgment. But it has no religious significance either way. The important thing here on this Feast Day of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus, this 8th Day of Christmas, is the gift our Lord bestows. His blood, His Name, for you, to save you from your sins. Your name is given in Baptism, but more importantly, our Lord gives you His Name in Baptism. You are named after Christ: Christian. The very Name of God is placed upon you, the Name Jesus bears and reveals, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now you bear that holy Name. It is written all over you, because you are God’s possession now, bought back from sin, death, and the devil, and you’re God’s own child, so you bear the Christian family Name. And you’re baptized into Christ. In Baptism, the circumcision of Jesus becomes your circumcision. You’re now part of the 8th Day, the new creation. The covenant, the New Testament in Jesus’ blood, is given to you. His blood is applied to you. It washes over you. It washes away all your sins. One verse in Luke Chapter 2 serves as our text this morning. One verse, and it includes your whole salvation.

So merry Christmas! It is a merry Christmas, indeed, because Christ, the Savior, is born, and He sheds His precious blood and receives His divine Name to save you from your sins. Put those post-Christmas blues away. They have no place here. While the world boxes up the decorations and stuffs the Christ-Child up in the attic along with them, to be safely stored away for another year, you… you lift another cup of cheer. You continue to wish each other and those outside our fellowship a merry Christmas. And I’ll tell you another thing. While the world wakes up this morning with the hangover of last night’s celebrations and the hangover of last year’s sins and failures, you wake up with the abiding hope of Christ Jesus, your Savior and Lord. You wake up knowing God has been your help in ages past and that He is your hope for years to come, your eternal life and salvation. You know something that world, sadly, doesn’t. And so it is incumbent upon you always to be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is within you, with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Because they need to know. That peace is for them, too. Another year of God’s grace is upon us. Another year to bask in the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ. How fitting that we begin it at the altar, where the holy flesh of Jesus and the blood He shed for us are given us to eat and to drink. It is the Christmas Feast! Rejoice, dear Christians. Be merry, and sing. A blessed 8th Day of Christmas, and a happy New Year. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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