Born Under The Law
In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Friends In Christ,
Today the church is not focused on New Year’s Day 2017, resolutions, football games, or parades. On the church calendar, it is the eighth day of Christmas. It is also a feast day, a day when the church remembers an important event in the life of Christ our Lord.
The event seems rather insignificant. The gospel reading describing the event is only one verse. Saint Luke gave us the beautiful account of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2 verses 1-20. We heard that Mary treasured all that had happened in her heart.
The shepherds returned to their sheep glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and also all that they had seen. It is then that we read verse 21, “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus.”
Luke is the only gospel writer who mentions this event. We might ask ourselves why Luke bothers to include this day in the life of Jesus. Why mention what for some had become just a religious tradition?
Why spend even one verse in Scripture telling us that this beautiful, innocent, little child was cut by a knife and had his blood shed on only his eighth day of life. This shedding of blood was a sign given by God to Abraham and his descendants. A sign holding God to his promise, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Lev. 26:12
The words of the promise were simple, but making it happen would not be simple. It would be a very difficult and costly promise to keep. The promise would require the shedding of blood. An innocent sacrifice would need to be made.
Born On Christmas
The innocent sacrifice was born in Bethlehem. His mother was the Virgin Mary. You have heard this passage many times, “When the time was fully come, God sent forth his son born of a women born under the law to redeem those under the law.”
On Christmas we celebrated that the time had fully come for God to fulfill his costly promise. The Son of God took on human flesh yet conceived by the Holy Spirit he was without sin. He came to live as one of us, he came to live for you.
Luke wastes no time in telling us that the eight day old Christ child began fulfilling the law for us.. This was the beginning of the shedding of his blood for us. Saint Paul writes in Galatians 5:3: “I testify to you that everyone who allows himself to be circumcised is obliged to keep the whole law.”
The Son of God who took on the earthly name Jesus also took upon himself the fulfilling of the whole law. We remember the words of Jesus when he said, “Do you think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Jesus came to obey the Law out of love for his heavenly Father and out of love for you. He did not just outwardly fulfill the Law but his heart was full of love. The love between God and man and between man and his neighbor that was intended at the beginning was fulfilled by the one who was circumcised and named Jesus.
The Son of God came because you and I are not innocent. We were not born innocent. Even the most faith-filled person is not innocent of loving themselves more than loving and trusting in God. The most sincere Christian is still guilty of hurting and harming their neighbor.
Not your most sincere New Year’s resolution can empower you to stop sinning. You have sinned, you have not kept the Law. You will sin today and tomorrow. No sacrifice you make can cleanse you from you sin. No ledger of good deeds can take away your sin. You are guilty and helpless.
To be told you are a sinner and helpless to free yourself from punishment is not a very pleasant way to start a new year. For that reason, it is wonderful that Saint Luke wrote that the Christmas child was circumcised. It is with great joy that we are reminded that his name is Jesus which means “the Lord saves.”
The One through whom all things were created placed himself under the law; he came to fulfill the law perfectly for you. On his eighth day of life, at his circumcision, his blood was shed. The law required it. It would not be the last time his blood was shed because the law required it. The law required that blood be shed as the sacrifice for sin.
This child took on your sins, he became sin for you so that the shedding of his blood would cleanse you from all your unrighteousness. He became the one and only sacrifice that could pay the price for all sins, for your sins. He would shed his blood once for all, for you.
His circumcision was the last circumcision that needed to be done as a sign of God’s grace. The sign of God’s grace, the sign that the promised Savior has come for you is your baptism. You have been baptized into the death and resurrection of this Christ child. You have been baptized into the shedding of his blood.
The child’s name wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. The Lord himself had come to save his people so it is fitting that the child’s name should be Jesus. The Lord himself is the one and only one who can provide you with the gift of salvation. Jesus is the one and only one who can save you.
In the minds of some people, Jesus is their best friend, their great example, their excellent teacher, or whatever they need or want him to be at the moment. That’s not the Jesus that Luke presents to us today.
Jesus is the one who came to deal with sin and death, not to ignore it. He came to be your redeemer and savior from sin. He came to be the Lamb of God, the sacrifice who takes away your sin.
Jesus is true to his name, the one who saves. Jesus came with resolve to save you from your sins. He did not waver from his resolution to shed his blood and lay down his life for you. Jesus came so that through his name you receive forgiveness and are blessed with his peace. He came to give you his Holy Spirit through whom Jesus changes your life.
May your new year be blessed by the one named Jesus who came to shed his blood for you and thus to save you from your sins. May your faith be strengthened as you hear the Good News that Jesus came to redeem you from sin and death. May you be assured through the receiving of his very body and blood that Jesus came and shed his blood for you.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria