The devotional reading for today is adapted from Concordia Pulpit Resources and focuses on the significance of receiving God’s name.
On this day, one week after Christmas, or, by Hebrew counting, eight days after Jesus’ birth, the baby Jesus was circumcised, as all good Jewish boys were.
On that occasion, he was given his name, also according to custom. That’s very significant, because he was given the name God had given him, as his angel had instructed both Mary and Joseph (Lk 2:21). Jesus, God’s own Son, was given God’s name. God’s name given to his Son means “Savior” (Mt 1:21).
It’s no coincidence that on this day when Jesus was named, he was also circumcised; the first drops of his blood were shed, a sign of the spilling of all his blood yet to come on the cross.
Having God’s name means having a special relationship with God, just as having our parents’ name means we have a special relationship with them. Looking back on the past year, we know how often we’ve been unworthy of this name.
As a Father, God does not ignore his children’s sins, but exposes them, so that they not only see their need of forgiveness, but also look to him to receive it. Through the shed blood of his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, he forgives the sins of those who bear his name.
Having God’s name means everything, because outside of the name of God there is nothing but the curse of sin and death. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn 3:18).
But “in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal 3:26).
God gives his blessings to us by putting his name on us. Last night, we all celebrated an ending—perhaps in some pretty festive ways—but today and every Sunday, we’ll hear an ending even more worthy of celebration! You know the words very well: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24–26). In the wilderness, for the children of Israel, the Lord authorized Moses to deliver the blessings of his name by those words.
God authorizes his servants today to do the very same—to put his name with all its blessings on us. Pastors are called and ordained to say whatever the Lord says, just as Moses and Aaron were. The Lord tells them to speak those familiar words of the Benediction, the way we end the Divine Service.
When the pastor does this, the Lord promises, “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (v 27). When God’s name is placed on us, God himself blesses us: “I will bless them,” he says.
When a pastor speaks God’s name on you, this blessing is a certainty. All of your sins of this past year are forgiven. All the sins we’ll surely commit in the year ahead are forgiven. God will bless us! By his name!
Blessing: Numbers 6:24–26
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Devotional reading is adapted from Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 27, Part 1, Series A, page 28 © 2016 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.