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)
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Happy New year! Regular year, that is. The Church Year already started over in Advent over a month ago. How was your 2016? Good? Bad? How will your 2017 be? Good? Bad? Full of broken resolutions? Better times ahead? Worse things to expect? Who knows? For many people, a new year means new beginnings. At least for a few days and then it’s business as usual. Same struggles. Same problems. Same sins. Same self. Most times a “new” year is just more of the same. But today is also eight days after Christmas. It’s the day when the Babe of Bethlehem was given His name officially. It’s the day He first shed blood under the Law when He was circumcised. We tend to measure a year by whether we thought there was a lot of good or a lot of bad in it. But let me tell you something: 2016 was an awesome year! Why? Because God’s name was Jesus. And 2017 will be an wonderful year. How can I know that? Because God’s name is STILL Jesus!
Jesus. The Name given to the Child before He was conceived in the Virgin Mary’s womb. Jesus. The Name St. Joseph was instructed by the angel to call the Child when He was born. Jesus. The Name given to the Child after eight days when He shed the blood of His circumcision in accordance with the Law of Moses. Jesus. The Greek name for Joshua. The Name which means, literally, “Yah-Sus: The Lord saves.” Because Jesus will save His people from their sins. It’s all there in His Name. Jesus. The Lord saves. Saves you. Saves me. Saves the world. Jesus is the Lord and He does the saving. And He does it the same way He is named: by shedding blood. When Jesus receives His Name, He is circumcised. Blood is shed. Pain is inflicted. It’s the Law. But Jesus doesn’t have to keep the Law. He WROTE the Law. Why on earth would the Son of God have to be circumcised? He does it for the same reason He became man in the first place: for you. To fulfill the Law for you. To save you. That’s what His Name means.
Jesus. It’s the Name of the One who opened the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf and loosed the tongues of the dumb. Jesus. The One who preached Good News to the poor in spirit. Jesus. Who fed thousands. Jesus. Who raised the dead. Jesus, the one from Nazareth who was handed over, tried, beaten, spit upon, scourged, dragged to Calvary and crucified. Jesus. The One who bled and died. Jesus. The One the Father crushed with the weight of our sins. Jesus. The One who was wrapped up and laid in the tomb. Jesus. The One who was alive. Not in the grave anymore. Risen just as He said. All that Jesus said and did for you is wrapped up in that one name “Jesus. The Lord saves.” Jesus. For you.
Jesus. The Name taken on the lips of those cursing and swearing. Ever notice anyone yell “Buddha!” or “Mohammed!” when something happens they don’t like? Because they aren’t the Lord. Jesus is. So His Name gets used like a cuss word. How silly! Jesus. The Name that means “The Lord saves.” Yet we forget. We figure it means, “God is watching. God is gonna get you.”Jesus. The Name the world thinks means “Fantasy. Pipe dream. Myth. Nonsense. Crutch. Can’t think for yourself.” Jesus. The Name the world mocks and laughs at. The Name we should call upon in every trouble but instead we hide it. Jesus. The Name that embarrasses us. That bothers us. Instead of stirring us up to give thanks for the Lord’s grace and call upon Jesus when we are in trouble and praise the Name of Jesus, the Name grows cold in our ears and useless on our tongues. But Jesus is still Jesus and the Spirit gives us repentance to once again see His holy Name as a treasure greater than all others!
Jesus. The Name put upon you at the font. Jesus. The One who gives you his body and blood to eat and drink. Jesus. The Name put upon you at the end of the service just as Moses was instructed to do it. When you walk out, a blessing of Jesus once again. Jesus. His Name was given in blood. The blood of a baby cut for the Law. That name was given to you in that same blood. The blood of that Savior sprinkled upon you in the waters of Baptism. The blood given with His body to feast upon in His holy Supper. The blood of His crucifixion preached and smeared upon you in Holy Absolution. Everything Jesus is about is the fulfillment of His name: Saving you. Forgiving your sins. Prepping you for eternal life. Jesus. The Name that gives you life.
So no worries in 2017, whatever it may bring. It’s a Happy New Year because while the year is changing, Jesus’ name is still Jesus. And Jesus still means “The Lord saves.” So whatever 2016 brought and whatever 2017 has in store, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to get discouraged about. Nothing to fear. The same Lord who was conceived in Mary’s womb, born on Christmas, named on New Year’s and who grew up to suffer, die and rise and ascend is the same Lord who, every time we are gathered in the Lord’s house, is marked upon you as the blessing of what God is all about: Saving you. Being your Savior. Accomplishing and delivering your salvation. So celebrate the New Year by taking the Name of Jesus upon your lips in the glad and joyful confession of what that Name means. The Lord saves. That’s why Jesus is called Jesus! Happy New Year...in the Name of JESUS! Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Jesus.