Sermon for the Eve of the Feast of the Circumcision and Name of JESUS, AD 2021

Galatians 3:23-39; Luke 2:21

Tonight’s sermon, is the last sermon you will probably hear in the year of our Lord 2021, as tomorrow begins the year of our Lord 2022. That is what A.D. means on our calendar, the Year of Our Lord. For these are the years after the coming of Christ, when God became man and dwelt among us. Secularists may try to erase the religious aspect of our years by calling them C.E., or Common Era, instead of A.D. Yet the years do not change, nor can they change the fact that Jesus Christ, God and Man, come to earth to fulfill the law for us, conquer sin and death, and rise from the dead and reign at God’s right hand. 2021 and 2022 are still the Year of Our Lord because the Lord Jesus Christ has put his name upon it by victory over his enemies.

Yes, the name of Jesus has been put even on our years, time has been redeemed by his work. More importantly, you have been redeemed by his work. The two things remembered today are the circumcision and name of Jesus, both given to Jesus on the eighth day after his birth. These two things given to Jesus are also given to you, so that you may inherit all that he has won.

Jesus only 8 days into his human life, began his subjection to the law on your account. He was circumcised on the eighth day according to the law passed down from Abraham and Moses. It was Jesus himself, the eternal Son of God, who commanded Abraham to circumcise his son on the eighth day, a command which was passed to Moses in the law of Israel. This command marked the men of Israel as the people of the promise – the promise of the coming seed of Abraham who would bless the whole earth. From this marking on the flesh, the people of Israel were set apart as the one from which that Messiah would come. Two thousand years of baby boys cried out on the eighth day that a deliverer would come, and now on the eighth day after Jesus is born, he takes that sign too.

Jesus, the very one who created the law, humbles himself to be subjected to it as we are. As an eight-day-old baby, he suffers by taking a mark on his flesh and bleeding to fulfill the law’s demands. From this day he would continue to keep all the demands of the law perfectly, as being God there was no way that he would break it. Though tempted to leave his humble estate, Jesus continued to continue in humility, because by this humility he would free us from the law’s demands.

The law leads us as a guardian – do this, do not do this, but by the law you could never attain God or be saved. The circumcision itself never saved any man, nor keeping any other law. For whoever would be saved by the law must keep all of it. God does not allow you to pick and choose what laws you keep. So when you examine you life according to the ten commandments – do not steal, do not covet, do not bear false witness, do not have any other gods – you see that you have broken many. Then you are held captive by the law – there is no payment, no recompense you can make to make up for breaking God’s law. For to the law you are a slave, you must obey as a slave, and if you disobey there is nothing you own to pay back, as a slave does not even own his own life.

The good news is that the one who is circumcised for you is also named JESUS. He is the Salvation of the Lord. For the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. That humble subjection to the law which Christ began at his circumcision was not just for his sake. Jesus Christ was subject to the law so we could be freed from it by faith. As Jesus fulfilled the law of Moses perfectly, he was able to die as the perfect sacrifice for your sins. All those punishments that the law would put on you for not keeping it were put on him in his crucifixion, the ultimate shedding of blood for sin. In this Jesus is the salvation of the Lord, for he has saved you from the punishment which you deserved.

Jesus showed himself to be the true Son of God by fulfilling God’s law and then taking the punishment the law required, as His Father sent Him to do. He lived His life in perfect submission to God’s will, and so our Father raised Him from the dead, the firstborn of the resurrection. No longer must the law be a guardian, for you may now receive the name of the resurrected son of God, which is put on you in your baptism.

With his name upon you, you are adopted as sons of God as well, no longer a slave to the law.
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. All who bear the name of Jesus in baptism are no longer slaves under the law, but are sons. Sons are not subject to the punishment of slaves, but are free. Sons inherit what their Fathers give them. In your baptism into the name of Jesus, you have inherited Jesus’ perfect keeping of the law, and his victory over sin and death. God sees you as his perfect son and heir, and gives you the Holy Spirit to strengthen and keep you in faith in the work of Jesus.

You also are brought by the Holy Spirit into the communion of all of those who have been made sons of God, here in the church, for all are one in Christ Jesus. The holy people of God is not one certain ethnicity marked by circumcision – there is neither Jew nor Greek. Nor is there any distinction between class in the church – there is neither slave nor free. All, even women, who could never take the mark of circumcision, have become sons by faith and heirs of God – there is not male and female in Christ. This is not to say that these differences do not exist among people, but in Christ now all have become one by faith in his name. That faith created by the Holy Spirit circumcises the heart, creating a new man.

Circumcision of the flesh marked the boys through whom the promised Savior would come. That Savior, Jesus Christ, the salvation of the Lord, has come and no longer do you need to return to the law to be our master. Now you live by faith, trusting that Christ has fulfilled the law and given every good gift to you in the forgiveness of sins. Those who are of God’s people in the year of our Lord 2021 or 2022 no longer need to be marked in the flesh, but are circumcised in the heart by the Holy Spirit. They receive this true circumcision by faith, receiving their adoption in baptism and new life by gathering to receive Christ’s Word and body and blood.

How blessed you are to live in this year of our Lord, where you live by faith in the name of Jesus! May we all commend our years and lives to his care. Amen.






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