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The Holy Name of Jesus

St. Luke 2.21

Rev. Keith R. Weise

The Circumcision and Name of Jesus
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sun, Jan 1, 2012 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Just one week ago, we celebrated Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.  Now, eight days later, Jesus is circumcised and named.  St. Luke presents it all in a rather matter-of-fact sort of way:

[St. Luke 2.21]

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

2 In Jesus' naming and circumcision there is more going on that just some traditional, religious ceremony.  By naming the Christ-child Jesus, Mary and Joseph are keeping God's word which the angels had delivered to them.  By circumcising Jesus, Mary and Joseph are keeping the divine Law which God had first delivered unto their forefather Abraham.  In Genesis, chapter 17, we hear God tell Abraham:

[Genesis 17.10-12a]

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.  And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.  And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations.

Circumcising the Christ-child reveals him to be fully human; one of God's own people; "a man child in the generations of Abraham," as we read in Genesis.  Naming the Christ-child Jesus reveals him to be fully divine.  The angel had told Joseph:

[St. Matthew 1.21b]

. . . thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

And who but God can save us from our sins?

3 The name Jesus means, "The One Who Saves."  Jesus' name reveals the very purpose of his incarnation: to save his people from their sins.  And Jesus' circumcision reveals that he will save us by shedding his blood.  Jesus' circumcision is his initial act of faithfulness to the Law of God.  Here, the one named our Savior by God himself willfully, humbly, obediently sheds his blood for the first time, and begins his holy work of our salvation.  As the hymnist writes:

[O Blessed Day When First Was Poured TLH 115]

O blessed day when first was poured

the blood of our redeeming Lord!

O blessed day when Christ began

His saving work for sinful man!

While from His mother's bosom fed,

His precious blood He wills to shed;

A foretaste of His death He feels,

An earnest of his love reveals.

4 Jesus' earthly life begins and ends with the shedding of his blood.  At his circumcision does his blood first flow down, and in the end, he pours out his blood from his head and hands and feet and side, as he hangs upon the cross of Calvary.  When he bleeds at his circumcision his earthly father and blessed mother first proclaim his holy name: Jesus.  When he bleeds and breathes his last upon the cross, the sign above his head proclaims his name for all the world to see: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.  By his obedient faithfulness to God; by the shedding of his holy blood, Jesus accomplishes the divine purpose revealed in his name: he saves us from our sins.  In Hebrews we read:

[Hebrews 9.22]

. . . almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

By the shedding of his blood, Jesus—God-In-The-Flesh—humbles himself before God the Father and before sinful mankind.  By the shedding of his blood, Jesus—Our-God-With-Us—faithfully obeys God the Father and accomplishes salvation for us all.  Thus St. Paul can write of Jesus:

[Philippians 2.8-11]

. . . being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knew should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

5 Jesus' name is the name above every name.  Jesus' name is the name which brings all creatures to their knees in humble adoration and devotion.  Jesus' name is the only name which brings glory to God our heavenly Father.  Because, as St. Peter says:

[Acts 4.12]

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

6 So how do you use Jesus' name?  Do you bow your heart in adoration as you utter the name of Jesus, or do you use the holy name of our Lord to express surprise, or frustration, or anger?  Do you speak Jesus' name in humble prayer and pious devotion, or is the name of our God simply some verbal exclamation point to be used during conversation?  Does the holiest of all names pass over your lips for any reason other than supplication, prayer, praise, and thanksgiving for God's mercy, love, grace, and salvation in the one named Jesus?  We are all tempted at times to misuse God's name.  We all sin by speaking or thinking Jesus' holy name in inappropriate ways.  And we all know—it's wrong.  God has forbidden such unholy use of his name in the second commandment.  He very clearly says to Moses, and to us:

[Exodus 20.7]

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

7 This commandment refers to Jesus, for he is the revelation of the LORD, our God, in the flesh.  So we use Jesus' name in fear and love of God because Jesus is the name of God.  We do not use Jesus' name to curse, swear, lie or deceive because to do so is to sin.  We do not use Jesus' name to express surprise or frustration or anger, because to do is to take the name of the Lord in vain.  Any use of Jesus' most holy name that is not supplication or prayer, devotion or thanksgiving brings the guilt of sin upon our souls. 

8 So today, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the holiness of Jesus' name.  Today the Holy Spirit holds Jesus' holiness up before us and lets us see his holiness in action as he sheds his blood for the very first time as he is circumcised and named.  By revealing once more these acts of Christ our Lord, the Spirit calls us to repentance, that we might see in the baby being circumcised the one who saves us from our sins.  He calls us to repentance, that we might hear in the name of Jesus the only name by which we will be saved.  He calls us to repentance, that we might put away our sinful, vain use of the name of Jesus and rather use the Name Above Every Name to call upon God in every trouble, to pray, praise and give thanks to God, and thereby bring glory to the Most High.  (Small Catechism, 2nd Commandment.)

9 How is such repentance possible, for us who so misuse the name of God?  God himself works it in us.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, we hear the blessed Moses speak the Word of God:

[Deuteronomy 30.6]

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

The circumcising of our hearts began as Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day and given the name once spoken only by the angels.  The circumcision of our hearts was made complete as Jesus shed his blood upon the cross and achieved our forgiveness by his faithful obedience to God the Father.  By his circumcision and by his name has our salvation been accomplished.  As St. Paul says:

[Colossians 2.9-12]

For in [Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Praise the Holy Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Feel free to use material from my sermons. No need to source the material, unless it's material I've sourced from somewhere else.

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