Text: Luke 2:21
Date: Circumcision and Name of Jesus + First Sunday after Christmas + The Eighth Day of
Christmas + 1/1/17
The kingdom of God comes to us in just the same manner as the Christ of Christmas: all by Himself without our prayer. Before we even knew we needed a Savior God sent His Son. For “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom 5:8, 10). That’s the first reason that the Gospel of salvation is really good news. God knows our true need. God knows your real need. And He comes to fill and answer your need out of love.
Love. I wondered how the dictionary defines love in its essence. As I suspected it misses the mark. Merriam-Webster says love is “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.” I guess that’s right as far as it goes. God acknowledges our kinship or personal tie inasmuch as He is the Creator and we are His creatures. But I wonder about that other word, “affection.” For the love of God is more than a feeling of liking or caring, merely an emotion. The highest form of Divine love is that which sees a need and then rushes to meet that need (and here’s the difference), He meets that need regardless of our loveableness, that is, though we do not deserve God’s love at all.
Thy kingdom come. Once God’s kingdom is revealed and announced the believer prays that it may come to us, to each of us. Christ has come to us. During these twelve days and especially today we celebrate how the Savior has come into our flesh and our world, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Being of the house and lineage of David He is also the One promised to Abraham and his descendants. As such, and for our salvation, the little holy One entered His saving state of humiliation under the knife of God’s covenant, acknowledged as a child of God according to the flesh and given the name that identifies His purpose and mission. He was named Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah come to save His people from their sins. His Father gave Him His name, God His Father.
The Savior came to us, taking on our flesh and blood in order that He could be the one, perfect, complete sacrifice for sin, for the sin of the world, for your sin. Against the background of the entire sacrificial system of Old Israel, still it is true as the hymn reminds us, “Not all the blood of beasts On Jewish altars slain Could give the guilty conscience peace Or wash away the stain” (LSB 431:1). Nevertheless the Word of God says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb 9:22). So it is that Jesus Christ came to shed His blood to bring us the purity of the forgiveness of sins. And today, in this little ritual of circumcision He begins that shedding of blood for us men and for our salvation.
Yet we gather together this day not only to mark merely an event of history, though it is an historical event. For Christ has not come to us only once some centuries ago. Today we celebrate that this same Savior comes to us now. For this is how God’s kingdom comes to each person, namely, “when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.” That gift of faith is given through the ears, ears hearing the Word of God.
Today we hear of God’s will to bless us and to put His name on us in the words of the Aaronic benediction, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26). God has come to us to save and to bless us. When we hear that Word God gives us His Holy Spirit with the gift of faith.
The sacrifice of blood that saves us was first shed on this day, the eighth day, a sign of the first day of eternal life dawning on the world. Then His blood was shed violently by the wounds of stripes and spears and nails on the cross. As violent and gruesome as that scene was however those with God-given faith see the love of God and actually celebrate the Lord’s death. Before that night when He was betrayed into the hands of sinful men, even before His sacrificial death, He also established the way in which He would continue to come to us in His sacramental body and blood. “As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor 11:26).
Thy kingdom come. O come, o come Emmanuel, God with us. Joy to the world the Lord is come. Rejoice in the Lord this day for He comes to free you from your sins, to raise you up to new life, to bless you by putting His name on you, “the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11).
Let ev’ry tongue confess with one accord,
In heav’n and earth, that Jesus Christ is Lord,
And God the Father be by all adored.