A sermon on Luke 2:21 for New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2019.
Eight days. A lot can change in eight days. Eight days from now we will be a week into the new year, a new decade even. Life will have gotten back to normal after the hectic holiday schedule. Christmas, even though it was only a week ago, might nearly be forgotten. Life can take very unexpected changes in eight days.
I wonder what those first eight days must have been like for Mary and Joseph after Jesus’ birth. They could have looked back on those eight days as a blur. Mary gave birth to her first child. It did not exactly go as planned. They travelled all the way from Galilee to Bethlehem because of a census. The birth took place in a stable. However, this was no ordinary birth. Mary gave birth to the Savior. Shepherds came at the invitation of the angels to worship the new born King. Eight days passed. No more angelic choirs. No more visitors to greet Jesus as the King. All was quiet. Mary and Joseph might have started to settle into being new parents. However, not much has changed either in those eight days.
The eighth day was a big day for a Jewish boy. On this day he would be circumcised. This outward sign dated all the way back to Abraham. This outward sign showed that the Jews were God’s chosen people. It pointed the people to the promise God gave to Abraham, a promise to send a Savior to save people from their sins.
Mary and Joseph on this day also named their Son. Not much thought, at least on their part, went into naming him. Gabriel, when he announced the birth of this child to Mary, told Mary the name of this child. Joseph had a dream in which the angel appeared to him and once again repeated the name of this child. Mary and Joseph followed God’s command and named the child Jesus.
Jesus, the name of sweet comfort for the sinner. Jesus, the name of relief for the weary soul. Jesus, the name above every name ever given to people on earth. Jesus, the name that means Savior.
This name given to the child signifies something very special. We see Jesus born under law. He did not have to be circumcised, for he was the perfect Son of God. Just as he did with all things in his life, he did this for us. Jesus was born under the very same set of laws as us. He had to keep all those laws for us. When we fail, Jesus has prevailed. When we break those commands, Jesus keeps them perfectly for us.
As with all the things Jesus did in his life, he did not do them for himself but for us. For we worship the one who does not change but comes to bring us salvation. It did all start right there with his birth. The angels announced peace that came to earth that night. Eight days later he still was living for us.
He lived for us all the way to his death. Not a single dent in his record. Not even coming close to falling into temptation even once. For if he did, he would not be able to bring us salvation. He lived that innocent life for us. He had to do this in order to bring us salvation.
Jesus lived up to his name in every sense of the word. He came to save. He went to the cross to pay the terrible debt we owe. For you and for me our Savior died to release us from the devil’s fierce grasp.
We worship this God who comes to save. It does not matter the sins we have committed in the previous year. They have been washed clean. As we look to start with a clean slate in the coming year, we know it will not last long. Sin will come, and it will come many times in our times we fail to keep all of God’s commands. We have the assurance that God will forgive those sins because of the Savior who has paid the price for our sins.
This gives us peace and calm as we enter into another year. Our Savior saves. We worship the God who does not change. His salvation never changes in anything that we do, nor will his promises ever change.
Uncertainties. This can be the one thing we can be sure of as we come into the 2020. We do not know what will come. The doubts surrounding the impeachment hearings will be there. Violence will also be front page news in some part of the world or our country. We can make our resolutions, but they will quickly be broken. We do not know what our health or the health of family members will bring. We face a future filled with uncertainty.
This does not mean that we have to be afraid of the future. We face the future with the same confidence that we have faced our past with, God’s promises will stand by our side. Just as Jesus lived for us in the past, he continues to live for us right now. He surrounds us with his comforting promises to get us through.
Through the ups and downs of political climates at home and abroad Jesus tells us that he is still in control. His Word will never pass away from this world. In the face of health crises God will never leave us. When we break the promises of resolutions, God remains faithful to his promises.
It is God’s faithfulness that will get us through. He will not change just because we change the calendar to another year. We rest on the promises of the one named Jesus to get us through.
In a time when so many things change, it is nice to see that not much does change. We still worship the same God. He promises the same thing because he is our Savior. This brings us certainty amide a world of uncertainty. Amen.