When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.Luke 2:15-21
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.
I’m a big picture guy. Details are useful to me only if they’re really useful. Give me the executive summary. I can fill in the blanks. It’s called being intuitive. I put things together quite well. Except when I don’t. And then it’s not pretty. People can get misunderstood. Misinterpreted. Short-cycled. Left hanging. I try to keep this in mind. And most often I do. But sometimes those pesky details are forgotten. I don’t read every word. I assume. And you know that that does…
The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus is a church holiday that is more often overlooked than observed. Most people observe it as New Year’s Day. It falls on January 1. But Jesus’ name and his circumcision have far-reaching consequences.
For the OT people of God, circumcision was all about becoming an heir of the promise God made to Abraham. This ritual brought the child into the covenant promise God had made to Abraham. Circumcision was also a representation of sin being removed. It offered forgiveness, and God’s righteousness, along with membership in the family of God. The promise was that Abraham’s descendants through faith would be many nations. The everlasting covenant God made with Abraham was that he would bring a Savior into the world. – Rev. John Wackler, Zion Lutheran Church
Jesus now more fully identifies with his covenant people. He has taken on flesh. He has been born of a virgin. Laid in a manger. Announced by angels. Worshiped by shepherds. Now becomes the next step in taking on the fullness of our human experience. As he becomes part of God’s covenant people, he begins also more fully to live in perfect faith to God and love toward others. He is all we could never be. He is our righteousness.
Jesus’ name connects him with us as well, for the name Jesus means the Lord saves. It amazes me when people use Jesus’ name as an expletive. Why take that beautiful name, rich in meaning, and sully it by turning it into an expression of anger, dramatic dismissal, or despair? The Bible says that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth, and under the earth. Sounds like there will be no exceptions. I’m happy to bow at Jesus’ name today, for he is my Savior.
If Jesus identifies with us in his circumcision, and as our Savior in his naming, we identify with Jesus’s circumcision in our baptism, and with his name in our confession of faith.
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”Colossians 2:11-12
“Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”Philippians 2:11
Jesus’ circumcision and naming is a big deal. It is essential to the story of God’s love for the world written in the blood, sweat, and tears of his Son. It’s already happening here: blood and tears at his circumcision. And it won’t stop until 33 years later when Jesus rises from the dead. And it will go on for us until the Great Last Day when Jesus returns and wipes the tears from our eyes. And our sins, washed away in the blood of the lamb will trouble us no more. There will be no more sweat of our brow. There will be eternal joy as we fully identify with Jesus, the one who did it all for us – from the greatest acts of sacrificial obedience to the tiniest detail of faithful obedience.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Savior. I’ve been baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. Thanks be to God!