Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
You are a child of God no matter what. You don’t have to get your life in order so that He’s happy with you. No resolutions are needed toward Him. He took care of everything. Resolutions are very helpful for your neighbor. Do what’s need for them. You love them, don’t you? Be a better you for them.
You are a better you before God. You’re saved. You’re His child. He sent His Son for you. He was born in Bethlehem for you. He was born under the Law for you. He was circumcised for you. He was named Jesus for you. Named Jesus “by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” Named Jesus “because He will save His people from their sins.” And He did for you: crucified and raised.
It’s still for you. He gives you that name. You share in His name. You’re baptized into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Now you are child of God, baptized into Christ. You are now “heir according to promise,” the promise made and delivered in Jesus—His birth, death, resurrection, and His Baptism for you.
Today’s the Eighth Day of Christmas. The first day of a New Year. It’s the day we remember Jesus undergoing circumcision and receiving the Name Jesus. The Name above every name, at which heaven, earth, all people will bow. But the Good News this Eighth Christmas Day, this Circumcision and Name of Jesus, is that
YOU’RE A CHILD AND HEIR ONLY IN JESUS’ NAME.
((I. It’s all a bit ridiculous and foolish.))
Today reminds us that what the world thinks as wise and important and powerful isn’t. Today our faith rejoices that the Lord uses such simple things to save us. “His power is perfected in weakness,” as Paul says. Today our flesh scoffs at it all. How stupid a thing circumcision was. But it was the Lord’s Way. He always does His saving in ways that defy our expectations. It’s always a surprise gift with the Lord!
But we don’t want to shy away from the foolishness and the weakness. The Lord’s “foolishness is wiser than men, and the Lord’s weakness is stronger than all men.” How silly it was that 99 year old Abraham and 13 year old Ishmael and eventually eight-day-old Isaac were circumcised. But there by the Lord set Abraham and all his descendants apart. He cut them off from the world, and would cut off their sinful desires from their hearts.
How foolish a God! Only according to worldly standards, though. To us who are being saved it’s His glory, using a rite like circumcision to set His children and heirs apart. How weak a God! Ruling the universe from a cattle stall. God’s aren’t supposed to shed their blood for their people or sacrifice for them, suffer for them, or die for them.
But that’s exactly what your God does to make you His child and heir. The Son of God is born in a stable, puts Himself under the Law He gave, circumcised for you, so that He could cherish the Law in your place. Not only that the Lord’s foolishness continues today: water and word to make you a child and heir, bread and wine that are His body and blood for you to eat and to drink.
Baptism just looks like water, communion just like bread and wine. Jesus just looked like a Baby. Circumcision looked like some silly thing, something that seems barbaric and even sillier now. But you know what’s also foolish looking? You and me. That you and me are saved, God’s children, heirs of eternal salvation. Look at your life. Are we better than the world? In some ways yes, in some ways sadly no. But the foolishness is still there: YOU’RE A CHILD AND HEIR ONLY IN JESUS’ NAME.
((II. God’s foolishness is your salvation.))
To our flesh and the world it’s foolishness, but to faith it’s joy. The best punchline to the joke the Lord is playing on Satan, death, and your sin—saving you from them. God’s foolishness is your salvation. That’s how He’s chosen to save you. And there’s no other way He saves you. It’s only in Jesus. Just in that Baby being born under the Law for you. Only in that Jesus who grew up and died for you. Only in Jesus who has given Baptism, His Preaching, His Absolution, His Supper to you and for you. Your very salvation from Old Testament to New Testament, from the promises made by Jesus to their delivery point at font, pastor, and altar seems like a joke to the world. Don’t we also treat it like a joke rather than joyfully receiving as much as we can? But it’s no joke. It’s true, really true, through His Word and Gifts YOU’RE A CHILD AND HEIR ONLY IN JESUS’ NAME.
You have His name given you. On your forehead and heart. “I put My name on the sons of Israel and I Myself will bless them.” You are a son of Israel for you are baptized into Jesus. You’re an heir according to that promise. You’re a child of God only in the Son of God. It’s not based on what you do and don’t do. Though we should love those around us, we should be better for their sakes because what God says about you really is true: YOU’RE A CHILD AND HEIR. He brings that out in and through you. You’re His.
Sinners are saved. Baptism delivers adoption. Bread and wine give you Jesus’ body and blood for your forgiveness. Some sinner with a funny title and funny robes says, “I forgive you,” and you are forgiven. A Baby ruled the entire universe from a stable. The blood of Jesus at His circumcision, at His cross, and at His Supper cleanse you from all your sins. There’s nothing that undoes any of that. Not your sins. And there’s nothing that can earn it before God. Not your good works.
All Him. Not you. You’re on the receiving end. It really is true YOU’RE A CHILD AND HEIR ONLY IN JESUS’ NAME. That’s what our readings say today, and the whole Bible, too, basically. There’s no other punchline, except to say, that simply trusting it, trusting Jesus, makes it all yours. Here’s one more joy: the Spirit gifts that, too! How silly! What joy! The Lord does it all.
It’s the Year of Our Lord 2020. What was true 2,020 years ago, will be true this next year, too. It will even be true forever. YOU’RE A CHILD AND HEIR ONLY IN JESUS’ NAME. It’s all ridiculous and foolish to the world and our flesh. But to faith it’s great joy because the Lord’s foolishness is your very salvation. It’s the joke He’s playing on the devil, the world, and your sin. He saves you! All Him. Not you.
YOU’RE A CHILD AND HEIR ONLY IN JESUS’ NAME. That’s true no matter what. You don’t have to get your life in order so that He’s happy with you. No resolutions are needed toward Him. He took care of everything. Resolutions are very helpful for your neighbor. Do what’s needed for them. Be a better you for them.
You are a better you before God. You’re saved. You’re His child. He sent His Son for you. Born in Bethlehem for you. Born under the Law for you. Circumcised for you. Named Jesus for you “by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” “because He will save His people from their sins.” And He did for you: circumcised, crucified and raised.
You’re baptized! You’ve got God’s name! Best gift ever! Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
INI + AMEN.