Pastor Tony Sikora from Hope Lutheran Church in DeWitt, Michigan is one of our favorite preachers. BJS is going to post sermons by him; if you want to receive these in your email, send a message to him by clicking here.
In the Name + of Jesus. AMEN!
Beloved in the Lord,
What is This?
Sometimes God just doesn’t make sense. When the Lord commands, speaks or does something it always seems sort of odd to us. Take circumcision for instance. Long ago, He commanded Abraham, “99 year old Abraham,” to not only cut off the foreskin of “8 day old” Isaac, but also himself, every male in his household, and every male who would be counted in the covenant. Now, try to imagine “99 year old Abraham” hearing such things for the first time. Certain questions no doubt filled his mind. “What is this? What the. . .? Why this? How is this supposed to . . ? You want me to do what, to who, when? What is this?
This seems ridiculous according to all reasoning. How could the removal of a tiny piece of flesh bring salvation. “For arrogant Gentiles what could be more laughable than that God – the eternal wisdom! – would order an 8 day old child with the 99 year old Abraham to be circumcised – together with all others in the future who might wish to adopt the Jewish faith?”
This evening in our text, Jesus, Abraham’s descendent and Abraham’s Lord, submits to circumcision. It’s been 8 days since Christmas and Mary and Joseph, good pious Jews that they are, though maybe not fully understanding everything God commands, nevertheless, submit to God’s Law. Jesus is circumcised. His foreskin is removed. And for the first time He sheds His blood. And you may be wondering, “What is this?”
Man’s Wisdom Works
Sometimes God just doesn’t make sense. Why circumcision? Why the removal of the foreskin? Why not poke the finger or strategically draw blood from the arm or some other more suitable place on the body? Sometimes God just doesn’t make sense. Man’s reason is unable to grapple with the folly of the God of the Bible. Even we Christians struggle to make sense out of God’s Word and commands. The way that seems right to a man isn’t the way that the Lord goes. That doesn’t make sense to us and if it doesn’t make sense to us then why follow the God of the Bible?
The way that does make sense, the way man thinks and reasons. . . is the way of works. Man’s wisdom always leads to works. That’s why people love to make New year’s resolutions. We know something’s not right with our lives. We know our priorities are all mixed up. We know we’re not as healthy as we should be. We know we’re not as nice or polite, or hardworking, or forgiving, or loving, or sharing, or caring, or compassionate as we should be. We know and feel that we’re not happy or content with where we are and what we’re doing. So . . . knowing all this, feeling all this, seeing all this in our lives, we try to change. Man’s wisdom always leads to works. Thus our New Year’s change is to try to be better. It’s like we’re trying to please Santa Clause all over again. If I’m good enough this year, if I diet and exercise, lose weight and lower my cholesterol, be nice and friendly to those around me, then maybe this year will be a good year for me. Maybe, I’ll finally be happy.
Man’s wisdom always leads to works. But man’s works can never lead us to heaven. It’s not resolutions that we need. It’s repentance. Our problem isn’t so much our deeds as it is our heart. No matter how many or how good our deeds are, if the heart is not right with the Lord, we’re not right with the Lord nor our neighbor. If we’re not right with the Lord, then nothing in our life is right, not our health nor our heart, neither our piety or priorities, not even our intentions. Everything is all messed up. It’s no wonder nothing make sense, especially the works and words of the Lord.
The Folly of God’s Salvation
Sometimes God just doesn’t make sense. But even when He doesn’t make sense, He’s still our creator. He’s still our God. When God commands, speaks, or does something we creatures should listen, fall on our knees and receive whatever He’s giving us, whether its circumcision, a tiny child, a supper or a cross.
This evening our God gives us His Son. Giving us His Son He names Him with a Name that is above all names: Jesus! Why the Name Jesus? Because He will save His people from their sins. Why Circumcision? Because the folly of God is wiser than men’s wisdom. Jesus is come to save from sin. He is not come to empower you to win your own salvation. He’s not come to be your spiritual coach. He’s not come to be your “good works instruction manual”, or your “be a better person guru,” or even your “travel guide to paradise.” He’s come to save you from your sins.
Sin is the problem. Jesus is your solution. This doesn’t make sense. Sometimes God just doesn’t make sense, but He is always to be believed. For, “here, so to speak, Jesus grabs hold of the Law and by His circumcision not only abolishes the old circumcision but the entire ceremonial Law!” The Law was given to those conceived and born in sin. The Law accuses each and every one of us as transgressors of the Law. The Law is good, holy, and righteous. But the Law is powerless unto salvation.
Jesus is come to seize the Law and endure its accusations against us. It cannot accuse Him. He has no sin. The Law can make no demands on Jesus. Thus when Jesus submits to and receives circumcision He abundantly and completely fulfills the Law’s demands with His own righteousness. He becomes for us the righteousness of God, the wisdom of God, the salvation of God. What the Law was powerless to do, God did for you in the sending and giving of His Son.
God’s Wisdom Crucifies
This still doesn’t make sense to us because we still want to do our part. We still want to have something to do, something to add, something to give God towards our salvation. But our God, the God of the Bible, won’t allow it. Man’s wisdom always leads to works. Man’s way always leads to death. God’s wisdom leads to the cross. God’s Way brings all who believe into paradise. Thus God sends His Son. Sending His Son He gives His Son into death, even death on the cross. Where you and I would add something, we must look to the folly of Calvary and behold Him alone. There is no room for us on the tree. He alone hangs there. He alone pleads to His Father on our behalf. He alone forgives the thief and those who crucify Him. He alone and none other. God’s Wisdom leads to the cross and from the cross God gives good gifts.
Sometimes God just doesn’t make sense, but even the folly of God’s wisdom is for your good. Where God gave Abraham circumcision Jesus came to fulfill it. Where God gave His Son to the pangs of the cross, the blessings of the cross now come to you and me through water and the word. Circumcision pointed forward to Jesus. Baptism points back to Jesus. Jesus fulfilled circumcision. His passion fills Baptism. “All who believe and are baptized shall be saved, whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Who is This?
Therefore beloved, repent! Turn away from your sin and return to the Lord your God. The world would have you resolve to do more. Your own conscience would have you to strive to do better. Your heart would compel you to follow the way that seems right. Pay them no heed. Listen, rather to St. Luke, “And when 8 days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, He Name was called Jesus.” Questions may flood the mind. Reason may wonder aloud, “What is this?” But St. Luke answers a different question, not “what is this?” but “who is this?”. This is Jesus. He was circumcised on the 8th day. He shed His blood for you. Does this make sense? Don’t worry about that now, only believe. The Word calls for faith first. Believe now that you may understand later. Faith receives Jesus and all His gifts given through His Word. Jesus makes all things new; hearts, lives, even years. Thanks be to God. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
De Witt, MI
 Luther’s House Postils, Vol 1. Pg. 179
 Ibid, pg. 181
 Mark 16:16
 Luke 2:21