The Name of Jesus

Luke 2:21 “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.”

Circumcision was part of God’s Old Testament law. If you were a male, and you wanted to be one of God’s chosen people, you had to be circumcised. Circumcision was a vivid reminder that God had made a covenant, a promise, to these people, and that God had claimed them as his own.

Circumcision was also a vivid reminder that sin begins at the very source of our life–it is passed from parent to child from the very time of our conception. Thus, it must be cut away at its source. Even this original, inherited sin must be removed, before we are acceptable to God.

Jesus had no personal need of circumcision. He already belonged to God. He was already chosen by him in a way which far surpassed that of any other human being. Jesus needed no reminders of our sinful flesh and the need for its removal. He was sinless, because God was his only Father and he was born of a virgin.

But Jesus came to be our Savior. That’s what his name means. With his circumcision, Jesus was saving us. He was keeping this law for us. Here he began his perfect fulfillment of all God’s commandments. Here he began to offer to his heavenly Father the perfect obedience to the law that we owed, in our place–as our substitute.

As we begin our year in Jesus’ name, draw on this comfort: Jesus lived as your substitute. We have the comfort that Jesus was our Savior not just at his circumcision, nor only at his cross and empty tomb. Jesus was our Savior every single day he lived. He still is. Everything he did–every breath, every movement–he did as our Savior.

As you listen to the gospel lessons read in church, as you read them for yourself at home, take comfort! Jesus is doing all these things to save you. He is teaching the pure word of God, performing miracles of mercy, loving people, glorifying his heavenly Father, and perfectly keeping the law, to make up for our failure to do so.

Do you understand what peace will be yours if you begin, and live, your year in Jesus’ name, always aware that he is your Savior? We will still be sorry when we sin, but we need not try to hide or deny them in fear. Jesus’ blood washes every sin away. Jesus’ holy life replaces our disobedient and rebellious lives. Jesus is our Savior, and his holy life and his innocent death for us is all that the Father sees anymore. We don’t have to be afraid.

If Jesus is our Savior, does this not assure us that we can trust God? Can’t we conclude with the Apostle Paul, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” We can be sure that everything our Savior tells us, whether he is identifying our sins, giving us his promises, or instructing us on how to live, he tells us only because he loves us. We can be sure that everything that happens, every obstacle in front of us, happens for our good, because Jesus is our Savior. It’s promised in his name.

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