Archive for January 1st, 2014

The Circumcision of Jesus

His infant body now
Begins the cross to feel:
Those precious drops of blood that flow
For death the Victim seal. 

(Hymn #898, stanza 3, Lutheran Service Book)

Readings:  Numbers 6: 22-27;  Psalm 8;  Galatians 3: 23-29;  St. Luke 2: 21 (also read, Philippians 2: 1-11)

Reflection:  Eight days after a male Israelite’s birth, he is circumcised according to the Lord’s covenant with Abraham and Abraham’s descendants.  January 1st is 8 days after the birth of Jesus, December 25th.  This feast day stands in sharp contrast with the secular holiday of New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. This feast day seems so stark, even a little bit on the squeemish side, as you look at the photo above:  an old man coming at an infant with a knife to cut off his foreskin! “What God proposes does not please the world, and what the world undertakes does not please God!” (Luther, sermon on Luke 2: 21)  But what is actually the odd holiday?  Remembering that our word “holiday”, is actually “holy day”.  No one intends to be holy on New Year’s Eve, just the direct opposite: drunkenness and hooking-up are the entrees on the New Year’s Eve menu, not covenant and Christ, yet this was the reason He was born, 

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4: 3-5)

Jesus, under the Law, Who needed no Law, yet loved the Word of the Law, went under the knife to begin shedding His blood, and one day His whole body would be under the  knife, upon the Cross…He is risen.  Circumcision is a bloody business, so is sin, so is our salvation and our Savior, who in His blood, has given us the “gift of eternal life”. 

As He was given the Name above all names (Philippians 2:9), so that we are no longer children, but His Sons and Daughters through “adoption”, that is, Baptism, born from above, in the Name of the Lord (Matthew 28:19John 3:5).

He was circumcised on the 8th day.  “The eighth day follows the Sabbath and a new week begins.  So also a new and different circumcision began when the infant Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day” (Luther’s Sermon on Luke 2: 21), that is:

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, 12 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: 10-12)

The new year is basically not new but the wearied cycle of sin causing resolution.  Only Christ Jesus makes, not a new year, but a new people, through Him,

“…who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2: 14)

It is about repentance, not resolution.The new people can have daily and joyful repentance, looking to Him daily in Word and Sacrament, prayer, praise and thanksgiving,

“… looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12: 2)

Lord God, You made Your beloved Son, our Savior, subject to the Law and caused Him to shed His blood on our behalf.  Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit that our hearts maybe be made pure from all sins, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

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