Summary: how Jesus’ circumcision gives us hope for the new year
December 31, 2003 Luke 2:21
21 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. (NIV)
On the first day, God said, “let there be light,” and there was light. On the second day, God separated the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. On the sixth day, God made man. On the seventh day, God rested. But what about the eighth day? Not too many of us remember what happened on the eighth day, but Luke did.
This is not the eighth day of creation we are talking about. This is the eighth day of the incarnation of Jesus, our God and Lord. Eight days after Jesus was born, He was circumcised and named. It just so happens that this day falls on the same day that America celebrates as New Year’s Day. Ironically, these two days have a few similarities. No, there wasn’t a parade when Jesus was circumcised. There were no college bowl games on the plains of Jerusalem. But nonetheless, there are a few similarities. Today we are going to examine the similarities between the eighth day and New Year’s Day, as we see that ~
The Eighth Day was like New Year’s Day
I. It was the completion of something old
Usually when a new year begins, people will like to show the highlights from the year before. Just recently the news media made their judgments on what they thought were the most memorable things of 2003. Laci Peterson, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, the war against Iraq, the capture of Saddam Hussein and the recovery of Elizabeth Smart all were in the list of top stories. In a sense, these wrap ups serve to close the book on the old year. You pay your final respects to the events of 2003, and you move on.
In a similar sense, when Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day, God was closing the book on something old. Only God wasn’t closing the book on something that was done for only a year. God was putting a stop to something that was done for approximately 1500 years.
In Genesis 15:5 God had taken Abraham outside and said to him, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." God promised Abraham that one of his descendants would be the Savior of the world. Later on in Abraham’s life, in Genesis 17, God had appeared to Abraham to reconfirm the promise He had given to Abraham. He said to Abraham, This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner - those who are not your offspring. (Genesis 17:10-12) Through this rite of circumcision, every time Abraham had a male child, and every time he and his male children went to the bathroom, God wanted them to be reminded that a Savior was coming through their offspring.
Jesus once said in Matthew 18:8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. In other words, the only way you could quit sinning is if you cut off that part of the body. So why did God tell Abraham and his male descendants to cut off the foreskin of their reproductive organ, as a part of his covenant? Why didn’t God have them cut off the tip of their tongue or their finger? After a closer look, we can see why God did this. Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. By cutting off this part of the body, this signifies what Jesus would come to do. He wouldn’t only come to get rid of actual sins that we commit, but he would get to the root of the problem, by cutting off sins that we were born with. From Adam to Zephaniah, all of us are born in sin. With this circumcision, God was promising the Old Testament believers that Jesus would come to get rid of, to cut off the sins we are born with and all sins that we commit as a result of this sinful condition.