Online Worship for New Years Eve, December 31, 2021
Sermon for New Year’s Eve – Friday December 31, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
In the Name of Jesus our Savior,
Whose birth we have just celebrated,
Whose rescue we even now enjoy,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
It’s been almost a week since Christmas Day…what has changed in your life? Anything? For most of us it’s already back to work, back to the grind, back to the regular and the mundane tasks of life.
For many, the joy and excitement of Christmas has worn off and even Christmas music is starting to become tedious.
For some, the Christmas season is over and today is New Year’s Eve, a day to look hopefully to the future and make plans and promises.
For a few others, the Christmas season is still in full bloom and today is the 6th Day of Christmas.
I’m quite sure that Mary and Joseph weren’t tired of the infant Jesus after 8 days. They may have been tired…and trying to adjust to the change that a newborn baby makes on one’s sleeping habits…but they were no doubt still happy for the gift they (and we) had been given. This verse, the next verse after ‘and the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it was told them’ relates the first painful event in the life of Jesus the Christ.
It was on the 8th Day after His entrance into the human race that the Savior was circumcised and officially given the name Jesus (which means Savior). Christians have historically celebrated the 8th Day as the first day that the Savior felt pain and bled as the God appointed substitute for human beings.
We remember today that the Savior Jesus was committed to winning our salvation as a human being (not for a week or month or year) but from eternity as God and for the entire 30+ years of His Life on earth. He suffered for us and was obedient for us and died and rose again for us that we might have hope and joy every day of our lives. Amen.
Do you remember the first time that you felt pain? No of course you don’t. Even if we could, why would we try and remember the sufferings and pains we have endured? We may remember particularly painful events in our lives – because they sear themselves into our memory – but most of us would just as soon forget our pains and suffering.
It is quite possible that our Savior Jesus first felt pain eight days after His entrance into the human race. It was on the 8th Day that He was circumcised and called an Israelite. It was on the 8th Day that He was officially given the name, Jesus.
Why did they wait eight days? We don’t generally wait for much of anything – especially the important things – when our children are born.
We don’t wait to ‘officially’ name our children. It’s not that we aren’t careful about choosing a name, we usually think carefully about the names we give to our children. We just don’t keep it a secret and then suddenly unveil it on the 8th Day.
We don’t wait or withhold the Spiritual blessing granted in Holy Baptism. There are some who want a baptism in the worship service and call upon fellow believers to support and pray for the child…but many don’t wait and even have their children baptized by the pastor in the hospital.
Why did Mary and Joseph wait eight days?
They waited because the Law of God required it of them (Genesis 17:12, cf. also Leviticus 12:3):
12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant.
We can also see the wisdom of God in waiting 8 days. In the human body vitamin K is necessary for the clotting of blood…and if you’ve ever had a jaundiced child, then you know that it takes some time for this necessary vitamin to be produced by the human body (medical practices today can speed up this up).
The practice of circumcision is common today in many places, but it was first commanded of Abraham. It was meant as a reminder of God’s Promise to make of Him a great nation and to send from among his descendants the Savior of the World. Lest they forget God’s Promise, God commanded that every male child undergo circumcision and have in his own body a reminder of God’s Promise to save.
It was a sign, a pledge and a token of the promise – not a guarantee in itself. Its purpose was to point to greater things to come through the Christ, the Promised Savior. While some compare the rite of circumcision and Holy Baptism, we remember that the former only pointed to the Savior while Baptism was instituted by Him and has the power to change our status with God by washing away our sins.
So therefore, Mary and Joseph waited 8 days in obedience to the Law of GOD, and on the 8th Day had the infant Jesus circumcised and officially given the name JESUS…a name which they had not themselves chosen.
How do we generally go about choosing a name for a child? Well, I suppose that it varies from family to family. In some cases, sons are given the same name as their fathers: George, George the Second, George the Third and so on and so forth. In other cases, we name our children after other family members, like our parents or grandparents or good friends. In some cases, a name is chosen because it sounds good or is popular. In other cases, a name may be rejected because an enemy bears the same name.
We choose names carefully…but make no mistake…we…the parents…choose the names.
God chose the name for the infant born of Mary…even before He was miraculously conceived in the womb. God told both Mary and Joseph what to name the child…and even why this was the name chosen for Him (Matthew 1:21, NKJV):
21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
We all have high hopes for our children when they are born. We pray that God grant them faith in Jesus, good health and that they find a godly spouse. We don’t generally give them names that indicate their occupation or purpose in life.
The name JESUS wasn’t really a new name. In fact, the name was a fairly popular name…because it was the Greek version of the Hebrew name Jeshua or Joshua. GOD didn’t choose the name because it was popular or because it might remind the people of the great general He raised up to lead His People into the Promised Land.
The name JESUS means literally – “Jehovah Saves.” This name was given to the infant Jesus because it was what he Had come to do – to save His People – (and indeed all humankind) from their sins.
He was given the name that He alone deserves – Savior – because He is the only Savior. There have been others who have taken the same name in other languages (Hispanic – Jesus) …but there is only one Savior. For speaking of this same Jesus, the Apostle Peter confirmed (Acts 4:12, NKJV):
12 Nor is there salvation in any other,
for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved.”
So…other than being a comfort and reminder to those who believe…of what value is this truth to us? Well, try this on for size…maybe we should start with the name Jesus…and use it as a way to talk about Him to others.
“OK, Pastor, everyone knows about Jesus.” Well, many people know the name Jesus, but few really know who He is and what He came to do. So since we are called upon to be ambassadors for the Savior (2 Corinthians 5:20) perhaps we could begin with his name…and just ask friends and acquaintances:
“Do you know what the name Jesus actually means?”
It means Savior…because Jesus came to save us from our sins, from death and from the power of the devil. The angels said it when He entered the human race. They called him, “A Savior who is Christ the Lord.” If we could save ourselves by being ‘good people’…then why did God send His Son into the Human race and give Him the name Savior!!??
If Righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died in vain! (cf. Galatians 2:21)
Still, we live in a day an age when many don’t think they need a Savior for various reasons.
Many have swallowed ‘hook, line and sinker’ the whole lie of Satan that if they just try hard enough to be good people (by our own definition or societies) then God will accept them (they will have saved themselves).
There are others who have bitten off a part of that poison bait and imagine that it is within their power to change their lives without God, or to convert themselves by choosing to believe in Jesus. They have been misinformed or simply do not understand that they are by nature spiritually dead and incapable of choosing God. It is our Savior GOD who converts us by the Holy Spirit, granting the new birth through Holy Baptism and the power of His Word.
Even we, at times, want to take some credit for part of our rescue. We too, at times, imagine that God accepts us because of what we have done (like attend church, put money in the plate, etc.) or what we promise to do…instead of thanking GOD that He sent His Son to save us…by doing what we could never do.
The Angel didn’t foretell a great new age when people would be good enough to satisfy their Holy God…. He foretold the birth of Jesus…who came to deliver us from guilt and from the punishment our sins had deserved. He went the way of the cross and proclaimed – “It is finished” – which means there is nothing left to be done, nothing for us to add. The Christian life is no payment for salvation, but a joyful thanksgiving for the free gift of eternal life in Christ.
This is our purpose as Christian men and women – and as a Christian congregation -- to direct people to the Savior, Jesus the Christ. Now, in order that we may be strengthened to do that very thing, we come forward today to His Altar and in a miraculous way receive His body and blood, which confirms that we are on good terms with God. It also confirms that we have been rescued from sin, death and the power of the devil.
May the same also grant us boldness to speak of the Savior
who is Christ the Lord.