Sunday, January 1, 2023
Reader: “This, this is Christ the King . . . ”
Response: “ . . . the babe, the son of Mary.”
Scripture: Luke 2:21
Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
What is in a name? In many cultures throughout history people chose names for their babies which carried a specific meaning or quality. But Mary and Joseph did not pick out the name of their firstborn son, God did. At the annunciation Mary was given the name for the child she was to conceive. The angel told Joseph the baby’s name as well as its meaning. He would be called “Jesus,” meaning “the Lord saves.” The Hebrew version being “Joshua.”
According to Jewish law (Lev.12:3), all baby boys were to be circumcised on the eighth day, reminding one and all that this child is part of the covenant God made with Abraham. This practice continues today by observant Jews at the bris (circumcision ceremony) on the eighth day following the baby boy’s birth.
You’ll note from the scriptural evidence that Mary and Joseph were practicing Jews keeping the laws―the naming Jesus on the eighth day, observing the purification ceremony on the fortieth day, regular attendance at synagogue, and Jesus’ own bar mitzvah at age twelve. Jesus was clearly an observant Jew his entire life―reading as usual from the scroll in his home town synagogue (Lk 4:16), his observances of Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), Hanukkah (John 10:22), Pentecost (Lk 24:49), and of course, Passover. Not only did he keep the Law, he fulfilled the Law and he fulfilled his name.
The meaning of his name is interesting when looking back at the Old Testament in relation to the Law. God made a covenant with Abraham and the sign of that covenant was circumcision. (Gen.17:9-14) God gave Moses the Law. But by following the Law, no one could ever enter heaven because no one could keep it perfectly, hence symbolically, Moses was not able to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land (a type of heaven) through observing the Law. Moses broke the Law through disobeying God and died without entering Canaan, the Promised Land.
After Moses’ death, Joshua (Jesus in Greek), led the people across the Jordan (through the river of death) into the Promised Land! Joshua was a “Christ figure” in some ways in the First Testament. When Jesus said I have not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, it became very clear indeed, “the Lord saves.” While Joshua was a type, Jesus is the real Savior. What’s in his name? Salvation!
Music: “At the Name of Jesus” First Plymouth Church Lincoln, NE
Glory be to thee, O Christ, whose praises the angels sing, whom the heights of heaven adore. In the miracle of thy stable-birth and in the mystery of thine incarnation thy people everywhere rejoice this day. To thy name help us to bow the knee and all its worshiping, bow the head and all its thinking, bow the will and all its choosing, bow the heart and all its loving. Glory be to thee, O Father, who by the birth of thy Son didst give a great light to dawn on the world’s darkness. Glory be to thee, O Holy Spirit, who hast again in these days hung forth a star in the lowly heaven of every Christian soul and seekest to lead us in the ways of humility and the paths of peace. Blessed be God, the only God: three persons in one eternity of love. Blessed now, and blessed for evermore. Amen. ―Prayers for Sunday Services, p.74