On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus. . . .
— Luke 2:21
I hope you’re not squeamish, but today’s focus is circumcision, the cutting away of the foreskin. In North America, circumcision is fairly common. It’s usually done for medical reasons. But in the Bible, circumcision is performed as a sign of a special relationship with God.
It begins with Abraham and the covenant that God makes with him. God promises to bless Abraham and to bless all the peoples of the world through him (Genesis 12:2-3). And there’s more: “Every male among you [in your household] who is eight days old must be circumcised” (Genesis 17:12). That’s what God expects from Abraham and his descendants.
When the gospel writer Matthew tells the story of Jesus, he begins with Abraham. Because Jesus is a descendant of Abraham, Jesus is part of the covenant relationship that God made with Abraham. So Jesus is circumcised when he is eight days old.
Here’s what it adds up to. Jesus is as human as any of us, human enough to have part of his flesh cut away. But he is not just any human from anywhere. He is a Jew, a descendant of Abraham. And that makes him part of the one human family through whom God will bless all other human families, including yours and mine.
Jesus, Son of God, you are human, human enough to be marked in your flesh, human enough to be a son of Abraham, human enough to be the Savior of the world. We praise you. Amen.