Circumcised to Set Us Free

Circumcision of Our Lord
December 31st 2018
Luke 2:21

The first drop of blood shed for your salvation was on the eighth day of the incarnation. Jesus, son of Jewish parents, was circumcised according to the Law of Moses. God put himself under the knife to fulfill a law he himself wrote. Even as an infant, he was living for you. He would grow in stature and wisdom fulfilling law for you. Turning the other cheek, showing generosity, and speaking kind words. Honoring his parents, obeying the government, and going to temple.

He kept the moral law, that is, being what we were commanded to be and doing what we were commanded to do. He kept the ceremonial law, that is, the regulations which kept Israel separate from other nations so that they could bring to the earth the Messiah. He also fulfilled the law by being the promised Messiah. He rode on a donkey, he was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, he died, and he rose. He was what the shadowy prophecies and pictures of the Old Testament were pointing to with great anticipation. He did it all and he did it for you, even as an infant.

He fulfilled the law not only because you and I cannot fulfill the law, but also so that you and I do not have to fulfill the law. He made us free. No more dietary restrictions. No more bloody sacrifices. No more rules and no more regulations. We are free. We could have never kept this law perfectly, so he did. We could have never lived this law and also been people of love, but he could. How could we keep the law of love when there is always a reward for us? It is inherently selfish. We would bounce back and forth from pride to despair. Only in freedom can we truly be love. Only in freedom can we truly be for others. Only when Christ has reconciled us with the Father, can we truly live. Only when we do not have to worry about our relationship with God can we truly lose ourselves in the love of others. Only when we are secure in Christ can we take chances in this world.

What a tragedy it is then when we put ourselves under law! Why burden ourselves with more regulations? Why burden ourselves with more programs? Why burden ourselves with more rules? Is it to make ourselves feel better when we do accomplish our goals? Is it a twisted negative theology of the cross – Look how much I suffer! What a tragedy it is when we lower ourselves into despair! And how annoying we become to others with our not-so-humble piety. The more we think about our own virtue the further we are from true love.

Forget circumcision. Jesus was circumcised in our place. Forget pleasing the Father, Jesus pleased the Father in our place. In this freedom we now turn to our neighbors. Now I will love, not for the sake of my own piety, but for neighbor. And when I fail at this, and I will, I know that Jesus has me covered. He did more than go another the knife for me at eight-days-old, he gave me a circumcision of the heart at baptism. My sins have been cut away, not just a piece of skin. My sinful nature was crucified with him and I rise with him. I rise with him to live a new day in freedom and love.

Michael Berg

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