Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year!
The gospel for today is brief: “And when the eight days were completed to circumcise the child, they called his name JESUS; as he was called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. "
Following the historic church calendar, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25. No exact date is given in Scripture, but the ancient church established December 25 as Christmas Day. Why? They assumed that Jesus died during the same week that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The dates of Holy Week vary from year to year, because the events of Holy Week are linked to the Jewish Passover. The Jewish calendar is different from the Roman calendar that most of the world uses, because it is based on the phases of the moon, rather than the position of the sun. However, March 25, nine months before December 25, always falls near or during Holy Week, making it the date on which we remember the angel's announcement of Jesus' conception to Mary.
According to the ceremonial law of the Old Testament, every male child was circumcised on the eighth day after birth. And eight days after December 25 is January 1. Today, circumcision is practiced in many countries by non-Jews for hygienic reasons, but in the Old Testament, the practice had spiritual significance. The rite of circumcision was a sacred act ordained by God in Genesis 17:10 as part of his covenant with Abraham. With his circumcision, Abram received a new name, Abraham.
Circumcision was intended to be an indelible mark on all who belonged to God's people, that the coming Savior was to be born from Abraham's descendants through procreation. Through the removal of the foreskin, none of the Hebrew males could live a day without being reminded of the promise God had made, and every conjugal act between husband and wife would be an example of the hope God will send a Savior. The shedding of blood signaled our redemption by the enclosure of the blood of Christ.
The first five books of the Old Testament contain all the rules of the covenant that God made with the people of Israel. Part of this covenant is the revelation of the universal moral law in the Ten Commandments, which is God's will for how all people should live. The rest of the old covenant are laws to prepare a particular people to be the nation from which the Savior would be born. These rules do not apply to new covenant believers in the blood of Christ.
We know that from our epistle, Latas 3: 23-29. “So the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith. But once faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor, because you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. " Next, in Galatians 5: 2-3, Paul very emphatically reproves the Galatians for submitting to the rite of circumcision as mandatory for conscience in the New Testament.
Among the Greeks, the tutor, literally pedagogue, was a faithful slave, in charge of the care of the child from his infancy to the moment of his maturity, accompanying him to school. and to places of entertainment, so that the student can be trained to assume his duties as an adult. God had given them the Law with all its demands and mandates as a pedagogue, the purpose of which was to bring them to salvation in Christ. The fact that the Law is a pedagogue is true even now, insofar as it works the knowledge of sin in the heart of man, showing him his utter inadequacy and incapacity even with his best efforts. For when so much has been accomplished in the heart of man by the preaching of the law, then the gracious gospel brings faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and assures the believer of his salvation.
Jesus placed himself under the Old Testament law and perfectly obeyed not only the moral law, but also all the Old Testament rites and ceremonies. Jesus was declared a member of the Old Testament people of God by circumcision. He was also given a name by which he should be distinguished in the congregation of God's people. As the angel had told Mary at the time of the Annunciation, and as he had told Joseph in a dream, Matthew 1:21, so was done.
Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua. In Hebrew it is Yehoshua, which means "The Lord saves." Of course, Joshua was the name of the one who led the Israelites to the Promised Land after Moses' death, also some others mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. However, in the name of this child there is salvation for all men.it
“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, because all of you who have been baptized into Christ are clothed with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise. "
This is important. Abraham was heir to the promise that said: "in you all nations will be blessed." That was fulfilled in Christ. Saint Paul said that baptism has replaced circumcision. At baptism, all the promise to Abraham is extended to everyone, not just the Jews. And not only men, also directly to women. When it comes to the forgiveness of sins, justification, God makes no distinction between people.
But, mind you, this verse is talking about the order of redemption, not the order of creation. Perfect equality in this world is not possible, not even desirable. Many people today speak of equality in the same breath as diversity. But if there is perfect equality, there is no diversity. Rather, God's design is with our diverse gifts of mind and body, we can complement each other. It's true about men and women.
In baptism we are one with all other believers in Christ. The church in this sense is the body of Christ.
That in this new year, we enjoy the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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