Eight days after he was born, Jesus was circumcised, and the people around him began to speak his name. Both Mary and Joseph had been told by angels to name the child Jesus, but the Jewish custom at that time was not to speak a baby’s name until the day of his circumcision. Even the angel who told the shepherds about the birth in Bethlehem did not speak the name Jesus—he called him “a Savior, Christ the Lord.” The name “Jesus” means “the LORD saves.” Moses changed the name of his successor from Hoshea, “salvation,” to Joshua, “the LORD saves.” As Joshua took over after Moses died and led the Israelites into the Promised Land, so this new Joshua—Jesus is the Greek way of saying the same name—would finish the work of Moses and bring God’s people into the new creation.
Circumcision was minor surgery required of all males in Israel, starting with Abraham. Because Jesus came to fulfill the Law of God, this surgery was performed upon him as well. For the first time, the world’s Savior shed blood, as he would also shed his blood on the day he completed his rescue mission. The eighth day of Christmas, therefore, is more than the beginning of a new year; it is also a time to remember our Savior, his name, and everything he has done to rescue us.
It is fitting that we begin a new year in the name of Jesus. We start the year thinking of the One whose very name is a promise of salvation. We remember his obedience to his Father on our behalf, so we can receive the rewards he earned by his perfection. We remember that he shed his blood to take away our sins, receiving the punishment we deserve in exchange for the rewards he shares with us. We commit every day of the new year to him, trusting his promises to be true every day of this year as they always have been true. J.