January 01, 2017

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Isaiah 51:1-6

Gospel Lesson; Luke 13:6-9

Epistle Lesson; 1 Peter 1:22-25

Sermon Text; Luke 2:21

One week ago, we celebrated Christmas. And so, today is one week removed from Christmas. If you count Christmas Day, it is the eighth day. Our scripture text we are going to look at in just a moment is the one and only passage in scripture which talks about what happened to Jesus on the eighth day. I would like to thoroughly investigate it.

Talk about investigating, it is the very first lesson of a student's journalism class in which they learn the questions: “Who?” “What?” “Where?” “When?” And, “Why?” Every article that is written, if it is going to be effective, needs to answer each, and every one of those questions.

So, I am going to take those five questions today, and looking at this one verse in scripture, answer each of those questions. Then, ending by focusing on the most important of those. It is the question, “Why?”
Let's look at God's Word, taken from Luke, chapter two, looking at verse 21, in which it talks about what happened to Jesus on the eighth day.

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.

This is God's Word.

If I were to ask you the question, “What did Jesus do to win salvation for you?”, probably the answer you would quickly come back, and share with me is:

“Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins.”

You would be correct in your answer.

But, scripture also says this, about what Jesus has done for us. The scripture also says Jesus fulfilled The Law for us. In talking about both of those things, Jesus' death on the cross, and His fulfilling The Law for us, it really brings together two things the Catechism talks about. Jesus' “Passive Obedience” and His “Active Obedience”.

       -Jesus' “Passive Obedience” is His death on the cross. He was passively obedient.

       -Jesus' “Active Obedience” is throughout the course of His life, He was fulfilling The Law for us, and He was living a perfect life in our place. It is Jesus' “Active Obedience”, or His fulfilling The Law for us which our scripture Lesson for today is talking about.

It is usually right at this time of year that we hear the passage from Galatians, chapter four.

“When the fullness of time had come,

God sent His Son,

born of a woman,

born under Law,

to redeem those under Law,

that we might receive the full rights of sons.”

That passage is telling us about Jesus fulfilling The Law for us. He was born under The Law, to fulfill The Law, and to redeem us.

Let's go back to those five questions, again. “Who?” “What?” “Where?” “When?” And, “Why?” And, let's look at our text, and see how Jesus fulfilled, even what seems like a very simple thing for us. (I am going to take those questions out of order.)

Let's start with “What?”

What is our text talking about today?” Well, our text is talking about circumcision. Circumcision is an uncomfortable thing to talk about, especially with little children. And yet, in order to understand circumcisions, we have to go all the way back to the book of Genesis, chapter seventeen, when God established the covenant of circumcision with Abram. Abram was ninety-nine years old, when God established the covenant of circumcision with him. (Ouch!) Here was the covenant. God said,

“Abram, from this time forward

for all generations to come,

every male who is born of your house

is to be circumcised

on the eighth day.”

And so, Abram, and his entire household, was circumscribed. It was on that day Abram's name was changed from Abram to Abraham. The Old Testament covenant of circumcision was used to talk about setting aside people for God.

It is our New Testament Sacrament of Baptism that sets you, and me aside for God. So, there is an equation that is taking place.

       -Old Testament circumcision – setting aside people for God.

       -New Testament Baptism – setting you aside for God.

When did circumcision take place?” It took place on the eighth day.

       -When Abraham had a son, his name was Isaac. Genesis twenty one tells us Isaac was circumcised on the eighth day.

       -As we come up to Jesus' lifetime, you might remember the birth of John the Baptist foretold. It was an angel who came to Zechariah, John's father, and told him that he and his wife, Elizabeth, in their old age would have a child. Remember, Zechariah didn't believe that. Remember he then, was mute. He couldn't talk, until the child was born. When the child was born, and when it came to the eighth day, his mouth was loosed, because everybody wanted to call the child Zechariah, after his father. He said, “His name shall be John.” It was on that day he received his name, and John was circumcised.

       -The Apostle Paul, later in his life, in Philippians, chapter three said about his beginnings that he was circumcised on the eighth day.

       -Jesus is certainly the person we are talking about, and His circumcision on the eighth day. But, what happened on this day, just one week removed from His birth was fulfilling what the angel had told Mary, before she had even conceived.

“You will be with child.

You will give birth to a Son.

And, you are to give Him the name Jesus.”

The last of those first four questions is: “Where?”

Where did this take place? Now, our text doesn't tell us, but tradition says Jesus was circumcised, and named in Bethlehem. This one verse from our text is different from the twenty verses before it, because Luke 2, verses 1 to 20 talks about Jesus' birth. The verse right after it, and following, talks about when Jesus was forty days old, as He was presented in the temple. This is the one and only verse in scripture that talks about the eighth day, when Jesus was circumcised, and named, (probably as tradition says), in a house in Bethlehem.

Which gets to the most pertinent of all of the five questions: “Why?”

Why was Jesus circumcised on the eighth day in Bethlehem? Why? Well, the answer is: To fulfill The Law for us. Even when Jesus was eight days old, He was fulfilling The Law for you, and for me. Here is what the book of Romans says about the problem we have.
“Through the disobedience of the one man,

the many have been made sinners.”

That is talking about the sin of Adam and Eve, and how because of their disobedience, it has become yours. It has become mine. It is through the disobedience of Adam and Eve that we were made sinners. But that passage goes on to say:

“It is through the obedience of the one Man

that the many will be made righteous.”

It is through Jesus' obedience in fulfilling The Law for you, and for me, that you and I will be made righteous! Jesus was even doing that when He was an eight day old child, as He received His name.

And so was fulfilled what the angel had said to Joseph.

“You are to give Him the name Jesus,

because He will save His people from their sins.”

That is what Jesus has done for you, and for me. You see, as Jesus fulfilled The Law for you, and for me, He took on the obligation to make payment for our sin. The obligation then that Jesus took upon Himself, was He would take our place.

Now, what is the punishment, because of our sin? It is death. Scripture says,

“The wages of sin is death.”

And so, here our Savior, who is named Jesus, took that obligation upon Himself. He fulfilled The Law. And, in fulfilling The Law, He took that to the cross where He made full, and complete payment for all of our sin.

As we gather together on this New Year's Day, we look back at this past year, 2016, and yes, we do see our faults, our failures, and we see our sins. Today though, as we gather for worship, we thank God for Jesus. And, we thank Jesus He fulfilled The Law for us. He took that obligation of our sin upon Himself, by paying for our sin, by His death on the cross. And now, as we put up our new calendars of 2017, we look forward to another year of God's grace, all because of the name of Jesus, and because He came to save us from our sin.

Happy New Year to you, and your family!