Circumcision of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Luke 2:20-21; 40-52)

Following His birth, our Lord was circumcised on the eighth day in accordance with Jewish custom, and was named ‘Jesus’ (Luke 2:21). Abraham’s covenant with God meant that every male descendant after him was to be circumcised (Genesis 17:10-12). This marked man’s union with God.

Christ’s circumcision was a sign of His submission to this covenant between man and God. Beyond His incarnation, Christ shows us also that He was born under the law (Galatians 4:4) and that He was subject to the weakness of human nature. By reason of this subjection, He underwent circumcision. Christ had no need to bear the mark of His unity with God for He was in fact one with God by nature. But just as He was later baptised, Christ led by His humble example and submitted even to be circumcised – so as to bear the mark of His humanity and fulfil the law.

St Paul compares circumcision and baptism in Colossians 2:11-12, referring to baptism as a “circumcision made without hands.” Indeed, just as circumcision involves cutting away some flesh, baptism involves the cutting away of sin, the putting on of Christ. But what does Christ’s circumcision mean for us?

First, it shows us another example of His great condescension and love for us. Secondly, it reminds us of God’s covenant with man and the new covenant we have received through Christ. Thirdly, it causes us to reflect on the particular efforts we have undertaken on our own circumcision – in a spiritual sense, remembering the words from Deuteronomy 30:6, “the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may love.” In other words, true life is to be found by dedicating our lives to God. Physical circumcision involves cutting away a small portion of skin but spiritual circumcision requires cutting away that which hinders our relationship with God and truly liberates us to love Him.


Source: Lychnos December 2019 – January 2020