Daily Reading & Meditation

Thursday (January 1): "He was called Jesus"

Scripture: Luke 2:16-21

16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 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.

Old Testament Reading: Numbers 6:22-27

22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 "Say to Aaron and his sons, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, 24 The LORD bless you and keep you: 25 The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
27 "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."

Meditation: What's the significance of a name? For the Jewish people the giving of a name had great importance. When a name was given it represented what that person should be in the future. An unknown name meant that someone could not be completely known. To not acknowledge someone's name meant both denial of the person, destruction of their personality, and change in their destiny. A person's name expressed the reality of his or her being at its deepest level. A Jewish male child was named at the time of circumcision, eight days after birth. This rite was instituted by God as an outward sign to single out those who belonged to the chosen people (Genesis 17:10-12). It was a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his posterity.

Jesus - the eternal Son of God who was born of a woman to become our Savior
In fulfilment of this precept, Mary's newborn child is given the name Jesus on the eighth day according to the Jewish custom. Joseph and Mary gave the name Jesus because that is the name given by God's messenger before Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb (Luke 1:31, Matthew 1:21). This name signifies Jesus' identity and his mission. The literal Hebrew means the Lord saves. Since God alone can forgive sins and free us from death, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son became a man to offer up his life as the atoning sacrifice to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The son that Mary bore is both God and man - the "Word who was God" (John 1:1) and who "became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). That is why Mary is not only called the mother of the Christ (the Greek word for Messiah in Hebrew) but also the mother of God or Theotokos in Greek which literally means "God bearer."

Jesus - the name above every other name
In the birth and naming of this child we see the wondrous design and plan of God in giving us a Savior who would bring us grace (the gift of God's favor), mercy, and freedom from the power of sin and the fear of death. The name Jesus signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son who became man for our salvation. Peter the Apostle exclaimed that there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved (Acts 2:12). In the name of Jesus demons flee, cripples walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised. His name is exalted far above every other name (Philippians 2:9-11).

The name Jesus is at the heart of all Christian prayer. It is through and in Jesus that we pray to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians have died with one word on their lips, the name of Jesus. Do you exalt the name of Jesus and pray with confidence in his name?

"Lord Jesus Christ, I exalt your name above every other name. For in you I have pardon, mercy, grace and victory over sin and death. You humbled yourself for my sake and for the sake of all sinners by sharing in our humanity and by dying on the cross. Help me to always praise your holy name and to live for your greater glory."

Psalm 67

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, [Selah]
2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. [Selah]
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
7 God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: By Christ's faith, hope, and love we are purified, by Bede the Venerable, 672-735 A.D.

"He therefore received in the flesh the circumcision decreed by the law, although he appeared in the flesh absolutely without any blemish of pollution. He who came in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3) - not in sinful flesh - did not turn away from the remedy by which sinful flesh was ordinarily made clean. Similarly, not because of necessity but for the sake of example, he also submitted to the water of baptism, by which he wanted the people of the new law of grace to be washed from the stain of sins...
"The reason 'the child who was born to us, the son who was given to us ' (Isaiah 9:6), received the name Jesus (that is, 'Savior') does not need explanation in order to be understood by us, but we need eager and vigilant zeal so that we too may be saved by sharing in his name. Indeed, we read how the angel interprets the name of Jesus: 'He will save his people from their sins' (Matthew 1:21). And without a doubt we believe and hope that the one who saves us from sins is not failing to save us also from the corruptions which happen because of sins, and from death itself, as the psalmist testifies when he says, 'Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases' (Psalm 103:3). Indeed, with the pardoning of all of our iniquities, all our diseases will be completely healed when, with the appearance of the glory of the resurrection, our last enemy, death, will be destroyed... We read that circumcision was done with knives made of rock (Joshua 5:2), and the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). And by Christ's faith, hope and love the hearts of the good are purified not only in baptism but furthermore in every devout action. This daily circumcision of ours (that is, the continual cleansing of our heart) does not cease from always celebrating the sacrament of the eighth day. (excerpt from HOMILIES ON THE GOSPELS 1.11)


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author Don Schwager © 2015 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
 

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