Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | January 2, 2012

Sermon on Luke 2:21

We need this…

  • Order of Service: Word and Sacrament, CW p26
  • Lessons: Numbers 6:22-27, Philippians 2:9-13, Luke 2:21
  • Hymns: 70, 708, 76, 584

In the name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

I’m going to say something radical, “We need Jesus.”  There, aren’t you glad you’ve sent in your mission dollars for the last fifty years to support twelve years of ministerial education school training to prepare pastors until they get to this very moment in this very pulpit and say something so breathtakingly simple?  It’s times like this, I’m sure, that you wish you could have a pastor like Luther rather than being stuck with me.  But stuck with me you are, and I’ll say it again, “We need Jesus.”  Because we won’t get through 2012 without Him.

And it’s not because the Mayan calendar is right and turning the page of your calendar to 2012 ushers in the apocalypse.  Though, Jesus could certainly return sometime this year.  No, you won’t get through 2012 without Jesus because you’re you.  That’s right, I said it.  You’re you and that’s the problem.  And I’m me, and that’s also the problem.

Last week we talked about the Word becoming flesh and paused to consider just what that meant.  It meant that the Almighty God assumed flesh like mine.  This flesh.  Right here.  This putrid, stinking, corrupted flesh that’s only slouching closer and closer to returning to the dust from which it was made.  Jesus took on the flesh that sin stings.  He took on the flesh that death remained undefeated against.

Because of our problems.  For example:  Do you ever wonder how many Jewish moms and dads delayed their children’s circumcisions?  The Scriptures offer us a couple of examples.  Moses failed to circumcise his son and nearly paid the price; and there was a 40 year circumcision hiatus while Israel wandered in the wilderness, but otherwise, we assume people circumcised their sons because they took seriously the Lord’s command in Genesis, And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people, he has broken my covenant (Genesis 17:14, NKJV).  So, Mary and Joseph dutifully perform the procedure that was more than a procedure.  They enter Jesus upon the list headed: “God’s Covenant People.”  We don’t maintain circumcision as a religious ritual anymore.  We understand from the New Testament that circumcision had its time and place and Christ brought circumcision to an end and replaced it with Baptism.  How many babies get baptized on the eighth day?  No, we have no command from God as the Lord gave Abraham to baptize on the eighth day, or else.  But the parallel between the two can’t be denied, In [Christ] you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism… (Colossians 2:11-12, NKJV).  God promises that baptized children become his children, yet how quickly do we bring them to the font?  How often do we point them back to their baptism?  As often as every Jewish male would be reminded of his circumcision, that is, every time he get dressed or used the rest room or slept with his wife?

We’re such good listeners.  We could pile up the examples of where we decide that we know so much more than God and we’ll take His words and promises under advisement, but we reserve the right to make all final decisions.

Not Christ.  The Father said, “Get circumcised on the eighth day.”  There’s Christ, getting circumcised on the eighth day.  For the same reason He was baptized.  As He told his cousin John, It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15, NKJV).  Because we misuse and abuse God’s Words and gifts, we needed a Savior who would use them properly.  Jesus did.  Because He took the next step.  He wasn’t just circumcised in the body, as all His Jewish mates were, He circumcised His heart too.  He walked the walk and talked the talk.  He didn’t just talk about New Year’s resolutions, He kept them.  He didn’t just talk about righteous and holy living, He lived a righteous and holy life.  And because He was who the angels named Him to be – JESUS, which is translated, Savior – He did what we needed.  He got through not just a year, but a life.  He made it.  What’s a problem for you, was not a problem for Him.  He fulfilled all righteousness.

Since, as I mentioned above, you’d be better served by Pastor Luther, hear how he concluded a sermon on this same text:

This happened and was written that he should be free in every respect from the law and sin before all men and that he was solely serving us by submitting to the law and becoming like us, in order to save us from it, as Paul says in the Epistle lesson: “He was put under the law so that he might redeem them who were under the law.”  For when death overcame him and slew him, without however having any claim or cause against him, and he willingly and innocently permitted himself to be slain, death became indebted to him, having done him wrong and having sinned against him and having handled all things inattentively, so that Christ has an honest claim against it. The wrong which death perpetrated against him, is so great that death is unable to pay or to atone for it. And so death must be under Christ and in his power forever. Thus death is overcome in Christ and strangled. But since Christ did this not for himself, but for us, and since he has made us a present of this overcoming of death in baptism, consequently all believers in Christ must be masters over death; death must be their subject, indeed, their criminal, whom they must judge and execute, exactly as they do when they die and on the Last Day [rise]. Through the gift of Christ death has become guilty against all to whom Christ has presented this gift….

Here the angel himself explains why his name should be Savior, Jesus, namely, he is salvation and redemption for his people. We have heard how this comes to pass through faith, to which he conveys all his rights and goods which he has over sin, death, and the law. He makes the believer justified, free, and blessed. Now just as circumcision signifies our faith, as we have heard, so the naming of the children signifies that we, through faith, become known before God through our distinctive names….

Without a doubt, as Christ bestows upon us all that is his, so he also bestows upon us his name. We all are called Christians after him, children of God after him, Jesus after him, Savior after him; as he is called, so we are called, too…. These are the abundant riches of his goods which he pours out over us, in order that our hearts become free, cheerful, peaceful, and undaunted, and so willingly and joyously keep the law (Luther’s Works, 52:156-158).  Amen.


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