"And when the eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb." Luke 2:21
This is one of those Bible stories that never seems to make the cut when Christmas pageants, cantatas, and concerts are being produced. Sheep, goats, camels, elephants and elves have a better chance at making the cast of most church productions. You have to admit, there is something ironic about having the circumcision scene cut from the script.
"And when the eight days had passed before His circumcision,"
The sign of the covenant between God and Abraham was circumcision. The Bible records God initiating this union in Genesis 17:9-12. God established a bond between Himself and Abraham's descendants. This covenant was symbolized by the removal of the foreskin of every male child on the eighth day of their birth.
"This is My covenant which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you; every male among you shall be circumcised...And every male among you, eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations."
The removal of this small portion of skin was a sign of the covenant. It symbolized the death of the flesh that must precede the release of the life of God in the people of the covenant.
Why eight days? Dr. S.I. McMillen, author of "None of These Diseases," reveals that Vitamin K is responsible for the production, by the liver, of an element called prothrombin. It is necessary for the clotting of blood. This is released throughout the intestinal tract of a boy during days 5-7 after their birth. They have the highest level of this element, and therefore the greatest blood clotting efficiency on day eight. After extensive research (trial and error), medical science discovered this fact in the 1950's. Dr. Abraham, relying on the Word of God, was 4,000 years ahead in the learning curve. Isn't it just like God to tell His children what is good for them and not tell them why. Rebellious children ask, "Why?" This delays obedience, and postpones blessing. Obedient children don't have to know why. They trust that "Father Knows Best."
"His name was then called Jesus..."
Joshua was a popular name, and therefore, a common name among the people of Israel. Joshua and Jesus are one and the same. They have been translated "Salvation" or "The Lord is Salvation," Joshua is the English version of Hebrew word, Yeshua. Jesus is the English word formed from the Greek word for Joshua. As the right hand man of Moses, Joshua was chosen by God to lead the people of Israel into the Land of Promise and defeat their enemies. He was honored as a national hero, a valiant warrior, a conqueror and a champion for his people. Jesus was going to be a conqueror, but on a level that the world had never seen before. There was nothing startling about His name. Men had given it to their sons before, and nothing had changed. When Jesus was born, the Romans were the latest occupiers of the nation of Israel. Many thought Jesus would push them into the sea, and restore Israel to a new level of prominence. God had a much greater vision for His Son.
"The name given by the angel, before He was conceived in the womb."
This is a reminder that Jesus was God's idea. Mary and Joseph were following the plan of God. They were willing instruments in His hand. However, the Christmas Story is not about them, because Jesus did not come from them. He was Heaven sent. He was born of a virgin, and therefore not man made. Mary held Him in her arms, but this passage reveals God's fingerprints were all over His life.
What is the big deal? The deal is big because Jesus was going to take circumcision to the next level. He was going to invite men and women to be partners in a new covenant. He was not going to promote the circumcision of the flesh, but the cutting of the heart. This had always been God's plan.
"The Lord your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, so that you may live." Deut. 30:6
Jesus did not come into this world for people to fall in love with the Christmas season. He came to tell them of God's love for them. He died on the cross in order to show them how much God loved them. He rose from the grave to defeat sin, hell and the grave. He revealed God's love and His power to change a person's heart from sinner to saint.
This Christmas, don't forget that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. God has given you The Perfect Gift. Is it time for you to give Him your heart. Your heart may be cold, or it may be broken. You may be approaching this merry season with mere cynicism. Exchanging gifts with God will make all the difference in your heart.
I remember the words of a Christmas card that I received years ago. It contained the words of a shepherd boy portrayed standing over the manger and looking into the face of the Christ Child. It said, "If I were a rich man, I'd do my part. Since I'm a poor boy, I'll give Him my heart."
Let Jesus come into your heart. He is able to make the cut that can remove the sin that separates you from God.