Reflections: Circumcision and Name of Jesus

Today’s Reading: Luke 2:21

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 61:1-11; Luke 1:57-80

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. (Luke 2:21)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why do we begin each of these Reflections in the Name of Jesus? In one of the first sermons in the New Testament Church, Peter declares, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Names can designate and differentiate, names can describe and denote, but only the Name of Jesus saves. 

Jesus’ parents didn’t pick out His Name for Him. “He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21b). When the angel delivers the Name, he also delivers the Name’s meaning. “Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins'” (Matthew 1:20–21). 

The Name of Jesus literally means, “The Lord saves.” While this Name was reserved for the Son of Mary and Joseph before He was even conceived in the womb, it’s not officially given to Him until a week and a day after His birth. Names and circumcision go together ever since God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and gave him circumcision as a sign of the covenant He made with him. 

But there’s also something more significant about the Name of Jesus and His circumcision: The eighth day of His life outside the womb was the first day that He shed His blood. His circumcision is a prelude to the Cross. The salvation that Jesus brings is salvation from sins, “and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22b).

The Name of Jesus is given to us in Baptism. Baptism moves us into His Name, and being in His Name we receive all the benefits of that Name. The Lord saves His people from their sins by shedding His blood. So, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Jesus! Name of priceless worth To the fallen of the earth For the promise that it gave, “Jesus shall His people save.” (“Jesus! Name of Wondrous Love” LSB 900, st.3)

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch