The Circumcision and Holy Name of our Lord
Luke 2:21 – “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
Origin in Scripture
Genesis 17:1-14 – “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
Circumcision – from the Latin circum “around” + caedere “to cut”
מוּל or mûl – Hebrew for “Cut down, Cut off, or Destroy”
1. Circumcision served as a sign! By its nature, it was a very personal, very private sign.
2. No Hebrew male could live a day without being reminded of the promise God had made to Abraham
3. Every conjugal act between a husband and wife would illustrate the hope that God was working to restore creation and redeem all people.
4. Pointed to a true and better circumcision – a circumcision of the heart.
Jeremiah 9:25-26 – ““Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh— 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”
Deuteronomy 10:16 – “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.”
Deuteronomy 30:6 – “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
5. The shedding of blood, the cutting off of the flesh, pointed to our final redemption by the shedding of Christ’s blood.
Why was Jesus circumcised?
1. Mary and Joseph were faithful Jewish parents.
Luke 2:39 – “And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.”
2. Jesus was born under the law to redeem us from being under the law.
Galatians 4:4-5 – “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
3. Jesus came to fulfill the law and circumcision was part of that law.
Matthew 5:17 – ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
James 2:10 – “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”
How are we to understand circumcision?
1. Circumcision is no longer a sign of the covenant we have with God.
Galatians 5:6 – “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
2. Jesus has given us the true and better circumcision – he was cut off for you!
3. Jesus has given us the true and better circumcision – the circumcision of our hearts in baptism.
Colossians 2:8-15 – “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
Ezekiel 36:25-27 – “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
Acts 2:38-39 – “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
4. Daily we are to die to our flesh, die to our sin, be forgiven and raised in Christ, and walk with the Spirit.
Martin Luther from his Small Catechism – “What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
Cyprian, 3rd century Christian – “Let us, then, who in Baptism have both died and been buried in respect to the carnal sins of the old man, who have risen again with Christ in the heavenly regeneration, both think upon and do the things that are Christ’s.”
5. Like circumcision, this daily walk in our baptism too is personal and intimate!