Sunday After Christmas
December 30, 2018
"On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived." (Luke 2:21 NIV)
When Jesus was eight days old Scripture records the first time the sinless son of Mary and Son of God shed his blood for sinful mankind.
Circumcision was Abraham’s part of God’s covenant with mankind. In reality it was a sort of unilateral covenant, with God doing all the giving, but circumcision was demanded of Abraham and his descendants to show that they were outwardly marked as God’s people. But the role of faith is plainly taught: "What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’" Romans 4:3
For Jesus, this was part of his fulfillment of the old covenant – part of fulfilling God’s law perfectly. “The circumcision is a part of Christ’s active obedience: he fulfilled the law perfectly in our place. And his circumcision brings to an end the need for us New Testament Christians to practice circumcision as a religious rite in fulfillment of the Old Testament law. In this sense Christ is truly the end of the law” as we read in Romans 10:4: "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." (People’s Bible, Luke p. 26)
Jesus was also named at this time, the name “Jesus” coming from two Hebrew words: The Lord (Jehovah) and Save, in fulfillment of the angel’s instructions in Matthew 1:21: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Mary and Joseph did this for him. Today, Christian parents see to it that their children are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the Triune God.
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament we also find references to circumcision of the heart, that is, cutting off the wickedness of the heart. For us sinners, scripture uses the picture of circumcision as a picture of cutting off our sinful deeds and attitudes. "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ." Colossians 2:9-11
But that is not the case with Jesus. He had no sin and did not sin all of his life. Yet he shed his blood – starting at his circumcision – for us, that we might receive all the gifts and blessings of God’s covenant of grace.
Most merciful God, who has given Thine eternal Word to be made incarnate of the pure Virgin, grant unto Thy people grace to put away fleshly lusts so that they may be ready for thy visitation. This we ask through that same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.
(Reprinted from January 1, 2012)