Worship Helps for The Name of Jesus

Artwork: Presentation of Christ at the Temple 
Artist: Hans Holbein the Elder

Worship Theme: On our calendars, today is listed as January 1, or, New Year’s Day. On the church calendar it is listed as “The Name of Jesus.” This is the eighth day after Jesus’ birth, the day on which Jewish boys were circumcised and given their legal name. Circumcision was the Old Testament sacrament whereby God brought a newborn into his family of faith and included him in his covenant (promise) to send a Savior. (You can see similarities to baptism, the New Testament sacrament of initiation.) Circumcision was normally performed in the home by a visiting rabbi. Jesus’ circumcision is another indication that he was indeed the promised Savior who came to shed his blood for us. When the angel Gabriel announced his birth to Joseph, the angel explained, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21) Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means, “the Lord saves.” As we bask in the continuing joy of Christmas, this morning we remember that this special child in Bethlehem was born to be our Savior, a wonderful comfort as we head into the new year of 2017.

Old Testament: Numbers 6:22–27
22The Lord told Moses 23to speak to Aaron and to his sons and to tell them to bless the Israelites with these words:
24The Lord bless you and keep you.
25The Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you.
26The Lord look on you with favor
and give you peace.
27In this way they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.

1. How do the words “The Lord bless you and keep you” (verse 24) reflect the Father’s work?

2. How do the words “The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you” (verse 25) bring to mind the work of the Son?

3. How do the words “The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (verse 26) reveal the work of the Holy Spirit?

Epistle: Philippians 2:9–13
9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12So then, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only when I was with you, but also now much more in my absence, continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13In fact, it is God who is working in you, both to will and to work, for the sake of his good pleasure.

4. What does it mean that “God exalted Christ”?

5. Why does Paul tell the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling?

Gospel: Luke 2:21
21After eight days passed, when the child was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

6. Why is it so important that Jesus was circumcised?

1. Physically and spiritually we are the recipients of the Father’s creating and preserving power and grace.
2. The Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed proclaims the wonders of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ our Savior. Luther, in his explanation to the Apostle’s Creed, speaks this way about Christ: “He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.”

3. God has not turned his back on us or ignored us. Rather, he continually turns his face toward us, that is, he gives us his undivided attention and love as the Holy Spirit brings us the peace of sins forgiven through faith in Christ Jesus the Savior.

4. In his exalted state (beginning with his resurrection and continuing for all eternity), God exalted his Son so that Jesus now completely employs the fullness of his deity at all times.

5. People often take this to imply work-righteousness. Yet Paul teaches no such thing. His point hinges on what comes in verse 13. We should work out our salvation with fear and trembling because everything we do is done only by God’s grace. We were running away from the Lord, but he came to us, led us to faith, and now enables us to serve him as branches in Jesus, the vine. If we revert to our natural way of thinking and acting, we will certainly cut ourselves off from the lifeline of God’s grace. We are in a constant struggle against the devil. We need to be alert, avoid spiritual apathy, and instead set our minds on spiritual matters.

6. For background see Genesis 17 and Leviticus 12. Jesus obeyed his Father’s law. He is shedding his divine blood as part of his obedience to his Father’s will and for mankind’s salvation. This is Jesus’ first recorded act of obedience as our substitute.

Putting your faith into action
It’s common for us to place our names on items we value. It’s a good way of marking them as belonging to us. At our baptisms, our God placed his name on us—Child of God. He did that to bless and save us, to grant us eternal life with him, and to fill us with eternal hope and joy. He also made us his own to glorify him with all that we are and have. May everything we say and do reflect the truth that we are his!

A reading from the Book of Concord for the First Sunday after Christmas
Now, if you are asked, “What do you believe in the Second Article about Jesus Christ?” answer briefly, “I believe that Jesus Christ, God’s true Son, has become my Lord.”

“But what does it mean to become Lord?”

“It is this. He has redeemed me from sin, from the devil, from death, and from all evil.  For before I did not have a Lord or King, but was captive under the devil’s power, condemned to death, stuck in sin and blindness.” 

When we had been created by God the Father and had received from Him all kinds of good, the devil came and led us into disobedience, sin, death, and all evil.  So we fell under God’s wrath and were doomed to eternal damnation, just as we had deserved.  There was no help, or comfort until this eternal Son of God—in His immeasurable goodness—had compassion upon our misery and wretchedness.  He came from heaven to help us. So those tyrants are all expelled now.  In their place has come Jesus Christ, Lord of life, righteousness, every blessing, and salvation.  He has delivered us poor, lost people from hell’s jaws, has won us, made us free, and brought us again into the Father’s favor and grace.  He has taken us as His own property under His shelter so that He may govern us by His righteousness, wisdom, power, and blessedness. – Large Catechism, Part 2, The Apostles’ Creed, Article II (paragraphs 27-30)

Hymns: 340; 76; 39

1  Jesus! Name of wondrous love,
Name all other names above,
Unto which must ev’ry knee
Bow in deep humility.

2  Jesus! Name decreed of old,
To the maiden mother told—
Kneeling in her lowly cell—
By the angel Gabriel.

3  Jesus! Name of priceless worth
To the fallen here on earth
For the promise that it gave,
“Jesus shall his people save.”

4  Jesus! Only name that’s giv’n
Under all the mighty heav’n
Whereby all, to sin enslaved,
Burst their fetters and are saved.

5  Jesus! Name of wondrous love,
Human name of God above;
Pleading only this, we, too,
Flee, O God, in faith to you.

Text: William W. How, 1823–97, abr., alt.


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