Luke 2: 21-35 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. 22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
The Greek name “Jesus” was a very common name in Israel when our Lord was born. However, it was traditional for names to be used that had been part of the family from generation to generation. In the lineage of Mary, and of Joseph, there appears to never have been the name “Jesus”. The Old Testament, Hebrew, name “Joshua” is the same name. In both cases the name means “Yahweh is salvation”. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary a part of his instruction was, “… You shall call his name Jesus.” In Matthew’s account we find an added phrase “for he will save his people from their sins.”
When eight days, after his birth, had passed the baby was circumcised according to the law. Now circumcision was given only to men and represented membership in God’s people. Jesus was born under the law and as such was subject to the entire law until he uttered those final words “it is finished”! Among all the Jews born in history the only one who really did not need to be circumcised was Jesus the son of Mary! Circumcision represented a cutting away of flesh, which represented sin, and uniting to the people of Israel. In the same way John the Baptizer protested Jesus’ request for baptism saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus’ answer would have applied to his presentation as a member of the covenant people in the same way. “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:13-14) In his baptism Jesus began his formal ministry. By his circumcision he was identified as a member of the covenant people of Israel. By this ceremony…
Jesus was brought into the covenant relationship. When Abraham was 99 years old God established a covenant relationship with him. The story is recorded in Genesis 17:10-14. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
After the establishment of the covenant, and the introduction of circumcision as the seal of the covenant, Sarah conceived and Isaac was born. With the coming of the law, given by Moses, an orderly process of bringing every male child into the family of Israel was established. After Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem the process began for him. We have evidence that…
His family was poor. When God gave instructions to Moses each and every family in Israel was included. Those who are well off had one set of obligations and those who were poor another. We find the record in Leviticus 12:6-8. “And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, 7 and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. 8 And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”
The instructions are pretty clear. At the end of a set number of days for the purification of the woman who had delivered the child she was to bring a sacrifice to the priest at the tent of meeting. Of course, that tent had been done away with a long time before Jesus was born and in its place was the magnificent temple built by Herod the Great. The law called for her to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. However, if she could not afford a Lamb then she was to bring two turtledoves or two pigeons. These sacrifices would be for her atonement.
It could be that since the two turtledoves, or pigeons, could be used by a person then by the time of Jesus’ birth it could have become standard practice for everyone to offer the birds rather than the lamb. I don’t know if that was the case but I think it might be. At the time of the baby’s circumcision and later presentation at the Temple the name was bestowed and…
His name held a promise. Let’s go back to see what happened to Joseph in Matthew 1:18-23. Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Joseph did not want Mary to be punished for bearing a child outside of marriage. There is no question that Joseph would have believed Mary had been unfaithful to him. The marriage contract that had been signed between them was just as strong as the actual marriage. Even though they had not yet consummated their marriage they were legally married. When he discovered that she was pregnant he decided to quietly put her away. No, that did not mean any harm to her. Instead he meant to protect her from the crowd that would condemn her.
While he was thinking about all these things, an angel appeared to him in a dream. That angel, we believe to have been Gabriel, stopped him from putting her away. I don’t believe Joseph’s questions were clearly answered by the message he received but he was obedient to the heavenly vision.
What he was told was enough. One, the child she was carrying was conceived by God himself. Two, without an ultrasound, Joseph was told that the child would be a boy. Three, they were to give him the name “Jesus” because he would save his people from their sins.
Remember, “Jesus” means “Yahweh is salvation”. And then Matthew adds to that a quote from Isaiah 7:14 in which we are told that the virgin’s child would be called “Immanuel” which means, God with us!
The name “Jesus” speaks to the fact that he is God with us. Years later Paul would write, “for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). His name held a promise and…
His name holds out power. The disciples of Jesus began, almost immediately, to use his name in a powerful way. Let’s look at the account in Acts 3:1-9. Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and also we look at verse16. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
Please visualize the scene with me. On a daily basis Peter and John went to the temple at the hour of prayer in the midafternoon. There was a man who was begging by the beautiful gate. He had been there day after day, month after month, year after year for some 40 years.
I am fascinated with the idea that Jesus must have seen this man during many of his visits to the Temple. I believe Jesus would have quietly asked the Father for permission to heal the man. But each time he would have been told to walk on by. We are so eager to do things that seem to need doing that we often do not check with God to see when he wants it done! The Father intended this man to be healed as part of the ministry of Peter and John. He knew that it would lead to a great witnessing opportunity.
When Peter asked the man to look at him he certainly expected to receive something. But he had no idea what a fantastic thing he was about to receive. This man was more than 40 years old. The muscles in his legs would have never developed! Yet Peter called him to rise and walk in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth! The miracle of healing went so far as to develop the leg muscles that would allow the man not to just stand up but to leap up and enter the temple walking and leaping and praising God!
The crowds that were gathered there that day had the opportunity to see what could happen in the name of Jesus. Not only did his name hold a promise and certainly his name holds power but also…
His name is the only way to salvation. In the following trial of Peter and John they were able to say to the judges in the court that day the words recorded in Acts 4:10-12. let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Peter stood before the Sanhedrin and boldly proclaimed that the man was healed by the name of Jesus! And he included in that statement the accusation that they had crucified the Lord of glory. Peter took the opportunity standing in the court that day to boldly proclaim that Jesus not only healed the man but also is the very foundation of future faith. Stating without a doubt that there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Not only did Jesus’ name hold a promise, hold out power and is the only way of salvation but…
His name is the only source of life. Repeatedly, John asserted that Jesus is really the source of life. In a discussion with the Pharisees found in John 5:39-40 Jesus said, You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Later, as Jesus came closer to the cross, in discussion with his disciples he said, John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” And then as Jesus came to the end of his life and John to the end of his Gospel we find these words in John 20:30-31. Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John wrote for the specific purpose of encouraging people to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing have life in his name.
The only source of Life is in Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God! And as we get closer to his return we need to remind ourselves that…
His name will be worshiped by everyone. This great truth is recorded in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. We find it in Philippians 2:9-11. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The name of Jesus holds a great promise and a great power because it is the only way of salvation. The very name “Jesus” contains the gospel. The one who is designated as “God with us” will ultimately be shown to all people from all time. And when he is revealed every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! The only source of life eternal is Jesus of Nazareth the Christ of God!
As we come to the end of the year and begin a new year this coming week we should remember that Jesus is Lord. I don’t know if you do resolutions or not but one thing we should do is resolve to honor Jesus all through the year.
Much of the commercialism surrounding Christmas robs Jesus of the honor that should be bestowed upon him. Our attitude at Christmas should bring glory to God and encourage peace among mankind. We need to remember that the name of Jesus is honored in every way because he is the Second Person in the Godhead. We need to honor him because he came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). And friends, without him we are lost! Because all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. None of us have any claim to eternal life apart from the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! If you have not trusted Christ for salvation, today can be your day! If you will “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) All those who call upon the Lord with repentance and faith will be saved.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.