Luke 2:21, Galatians 3:23-29
After hours of labor and pain the mother is asked, “What is the baby’s name? That is often the first question people ask new parents. The baby’s name has significance. Usually it is a family name or something that is meaningful to the parents. Our boys’ names had to be connected to the Battle of the Alamo because Texas and our daughter’s initials are ORO, Spanish for gold, a reminder to us that our children are more precious than gold and a reminder to them they are more valuable than gold.
And so it was that Mary and Joseph needed to name their son but they were not to choose the name of this baby. For though Mary birthed this child and Joseph adopted him, this child was named by his true father. He is to be named Jesus. God claims this child as his own by naming him. Joshua or YWHW Saves.
Every year there are always lists of the most popular names, I’ve always wondered what the least popular names are. Ever since the 1940’s I’m sure the use of the name Adolf has dropped off significantly. You meet a kid named Elvis and you can’t help but smirk. Elon Musk named his latest kid, X Æ A-12 Musk (XAsh A12). He and the mother don’t always share the same answers when asked what does the name mean.
Names are important even for God, not because he needs them but because he wants us to know who he is. God gives us his name so we believe and trust in him. His name gives us something to believe in. He will save his people from their sins. He is no political savior. He is not here to make your life go just right, he is born to forgive you.
All along God had names, God the mighty, God the healer, the Lord will provide, the Lord our shepherd, Everlasting, God most high. These are all accurate and true, but when God takes flesh and is born he becomes God and man. He is not far and above all lofty ideas and impressive titles. God when he becomes born of Mary becomes God who is humble and fragile. He comes to experience all we do.
This is something for you to never forget because it is fundamental to the faith, that God’s greatest attribute is not his being high and mighty. God greatest attribute is not that he is sovereign or that he is an awesome God. It is true he is sovereign but now the Most High God does something we consider not so sovereign, he lays aside his majesty and places himself in time, in our troubles and under the law.
Everyone is saying how hard 2020 was and how grateful they are that it is over, God wanted to be in time, even the worst of times. God was born and was named. He was no longer outside of humanity but brought all of humanity to himself. Jesus does this by being born under the law. The God who created the law, the God above all laws and has no requirements upon himself came to be as you are. We don’t like rules and laws. So often we think the loving thing to do when the law is broken is to look the other way. For our children we don’t like to punish them or it’s hard to. I know I as a father say, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” We don’t like to be punished. This is our sinful flesh’s rebellion against God and because we don’t like acknowledging we aren’t God. God has a law and that law is for eternity and it is good.
We do all we can to avoid following laws, Jesus comes to be born under the law. Jesus sees it as joy to fulfill the law not abolish the law, Matt. 5:17, but to fulfill the law. Jesus loves the law of God because it’s his opportunity to show his faithfulness to his father and to us. You should do the same. He comes to be numbered with us as part of the human race. God takes flesh and a name, Jesus so that he would keep God’s name holy.
Keeping God’s name holy means not only not cursing with God’s name but also living a life worthy of that name. In royal families the name carries a lot of weight. Your name is your ticket in life. Like Carnegie, Kennedy, Bush. When a member of that family is caught breaking the law the matriarch or patriarch will often say, “you have not lived up to your family name.” This is the case for all of us. All of us have not lived up to God’s name, our creator, the one who gave us life. The Father of all creation, he who gave all things life, we have rebelled against him.
Even in our own families we have not been obedient children by sinning against our earthly mothers and fathers. We have dishonored the name of God. We have rebelled and preferred the name of the father of lies. By sin we joined ourselves to a new family a family that has as its inheritance death. A dead Family life is what God came to. He had no family, but came to be our brother to rescue us. A new family must be generated.
He not only took a name but also came under the same laws that we are. God told Abraham, “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised.”
The very part of man’s anatomy that God uses to make life and families is marked with a promise. That all who are circumcised are part of this promise to Abraham. That from Abraham’s line will come one who will not dishonor the family name, one who does keep the covenant forever. It is not Abraham who keeps the law but one who will be part of
his lineage by circumcision, God himself.
When Jesus is cut and his blood is shed eight days after birth he is fulfilling the requirement of circumcision for all people. That in this man will the law be answered. He will have a name and he will be under the law. That even at just eight days he is obeying the requirements of the law for us, men and women. His blood shed again on the cross completing his circumcision. If he indeed is born as a man and carries all the sins of his brothers he must be sacrificed.
Jesus’ blood is shed at eight days he is fully human truly born as we are yet without sin so that he would also die as we die, yet he still without sin. It is important that Jesus is named and circumcised because that is fulfilling God’s requirements for us and a new family name is given.
St. Paul is the one who makes the connection between baptism and circumcision in Col 2 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism.
In baptism our old family life is ended. This is also why at a baptism you or your parents are asked what your name is. Your name is sanctified in a new family connecting you to the naming and circumcision of Jesus. We are birthed under an obedient father. So just as we are to remember our family name, remember you are baptized. We are adopted even given a new name, forgiven.
A new name given to us for us to believe in. That all our sins against our family are forgiven. All our taking God’s holy name for granted, not living as a child of a royal king, all of it forgiven and not held against you for your brother took the fall. He suffered your punishment. He upheld the law, named and circumcised for you to be given a new identity. Only don’t rebel against God’s laws, they are life and joy.
What is your name? A child of God. Like Elon Musk’s kid’s name, your name as a child of God will not be understood by this evil world that is perishing. But let that not keep you from taking pride in your name as a child of God. You may have had a rough 2020, no matter the year or the tragedy, your God will not forsake you. He will not leave you. Your sins are forgiven no matter how bad it looks. Eternal life is your inheritance no matter how much death you’ve seen or experienced. Jesus promises you eternal life. He has bet his life on it. God guarantees us a blessed family reunion with all the faithful. Not just a day or two of family fun or joy, but an eternity never bothered with sin again. It isn’t just a new year to look forward to try and get life right, you have life in Jesus this next year and every year unto eternity.