Circumcision and Name of Jesus – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Luke 2:21 “The Name of Salvation”
December 31, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
+ + +
O merciful and eternal God, heavenly Father, You caused Your Son to endure circumcision and to be made subject to the law that we might be redeemed from the curse of the law: We beseech You, grant us grace to become partakers of this redemption and thus obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, by Veit Dietrich, p. 149)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 2nd chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
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.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who is your Redeemer from the bondage of sin, who shed His Holy blood for you because He is God who Saves, dear fellow redeemed:
What is in a name? We are all aware of how special they are. There are a variety of reasons as to why we pick out names. The most important reason is the meaning that goes into the name. You can look online and find the reasons for the meaning of any name. Some names get that meaning based on the region you are from. After making a family tree book, it is fun to see the difference between the Norwegian and German names. Going to Lutheran schools my whole life, I am aware of all the biblical names you can possibly pick to name your child. When you go to pick a name, you are looking for that special meaning. You’re most likely going to avoid giving your child the same name as the family dog or cat. Now as new parents look forward to picking out a name for their first child, Mary and Joseph did not get a chance to pick. The Angel Gabriel came to them both in a dream before their special baby was born. Their special baby was going to get a special name, the name of salvation.
Now today our text is one verse. This one verse almost gets glanced over because of the birth account of St. Luke. Why would we want or care about a passage that starts, “And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised…” There is so much in this one verse. This rite of the Jewish people is what brought you into the nation. Circumcision not only marked the people of Israel, but it was a reminder of the promise of God to Abraham. As the people of Israel were set apart, the reason they were set apart had just arrived in the temple.
So, Jesus is brought into His own people by His devout parents. They were obeying the law by bringing Jesus in. He is made a member of the covenant with His circumcision and was placed under the law. We remember Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River for the start of His earthly ministry, but He started carrying the weight of the world on the eighth day of His life. This is special because all the children of Israel did this, yet they would sin, and sin, and sin. They would then have to sacrifice an animal, shedding blood for forgiveness, looking ahead to the One who would come. A little baby arrives who is only eight days old
and sheds His Holy blood.
Jesus coming into the temple at eight days old makes a statement for everyone. We truly see how sinful we are. To obey God’s law means that we started this endeavor at the beginning of our life. How are we doing? “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed” (Galatians 3:23). It is hard to accept how our sins hold us captive, especially when they can feel so good to commit and at times we want to be held captive. It’s not that God’s law is hard to follow, it’s hard because we don’t want to follow it. God tells us how He takes care of us and how much it costs. “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:1-2a).
You heard it right, God is coming to you, providing for you, and it is free. Usually, we are all for receiving free things. Isaiah preaches and we do the opposite. We spend not on what we need, but on what we want. We strive for it, and it does not satisfy us. Our sins call to us, always wanting more. While we are held captive by the law and our sins, the law then calls us names. We are called idolaters, rebels, murderers, adulterers, and coveters. We bear these names under the law. They list our crimes against God. These are the names of those who deserve destruction.
St. Paul also knows the names that we carry. As he writes this list out to the Corinthian Church, he then gives them comfort. He writes to them, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Did you hear that last part. “In the name.” As Mary and Joseph brought their baby into the temple, “He was called Jesus.” The gracious name that means God saves.
Israel had been waiting so long for this promise. Could it possibly be coming true? The gracious will of God was that the only begotten Son of God would come down from heaven. He was put under the law and given the name Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21b). That is what this child begins on the eighth day. Given the name of salvation, He sheds some drops of blood for His people because He will be able to keep the law for which His blood is shed. In this one verse and in this one name, God’s plan is revealed to His people. He has come in the flesh, born under the law to redeem His people who are captive.
It is not fun being held captive to your sins and having those names tied to your very way of life. However, you beautifully see the meaning of this verse. God would not leave you captive. Jesus comes down from heaven as a gift. He sees the names that you have because of your failures, and He is given the name of your salvation. This baby with this name had so far to go. Jesus continued from here. He was active in obeying God’s law His earthy life. The Father’s will was followed perfectly. While He followed the law, He passively carried your sins. And as He shed blood to be born under the law, He shed His blood on the cross for those sins against the law.
Jesus’ death on the cross is not destroying and ending God’s moral law. The law was given for your good. St. Paul writes, “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). It guards you from the world, revealing the will of God. As your sinful nature fails to follow the will of God, the law pointed to the name of salvation. It pointed to God Himself come down from heaven. He kept every spot of the law in your place. He wants you to see His name, Jesus saves you, it is all in His name and His obedience.
Scripture continues to reveal that this name of salvation is for all people as Jesus was born as a gift. St.
Paul elaborates more, “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:25-27). Your redemption comes from believing that there is nothing you can do to save yourself. A gift is given to you in the name of salvation. This name goes out into the world for all to hear. The Gospel continues to thrive as Isaiah prophesied, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). As the Word goes out, your works in the Word succeed through the works of Jesus Christ, the one who saves the world from their sins.
The Savior of the world, born of a virgin, begins a journey of salvation at eight days old. A journey that the people of Israel could not do. A journey that we can not do. So, God comes down from heaven to embark on this journey. He sheds blood to be under the law with His people. He is given the name of salvation. This one verse can be glanced over so many times, but it ties the Old Testament and the New Testament together. As Jesus sheds blood under the law, St. Paul writes, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29). We were in the bondage of sin with nowhere to go. The bonds are broken, and we are redeemed by the One who obeyed the law completely. The blood shed under the law was shed for all on the cross. The name of salvation is given to you as a gift and what a special name, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21b). Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
+ + +