Those of us who are liturgical Christians, are still celebrating Christmas, still six days to go. Unlike the song, we don’t have presents everyday, but we do reflect on the meaning of the incarnation.
January the first is the eighth day of Christmas. In the Gospel of Luke, we learn that on the eighth day after his birth, that Jesus was circumcised, so it is fitting that we remember that event on the first of January.
We see several items in this one event. First, the early church fathers tell us that this is the first time we see Jesus shedding his blood to complete the law. Secondly we learn that even as a baby, (through his parents actions), Jesus keeps the law. It is the third item that will be considered today. A Jewish child is named when he is circumcised. We are told in Luke, that upon his circumcision, he was given the name of Jesus. Jesus comes from the Aramaic (the language spoken in Israel at that time), Yeshua, which comes from Yah Shua, or God saves. In other words, Jesus’s name proclaims what he was coming into the world for.
The word ש”ע
implies not only saving as in saving a life, but healing as well. In the Greek we find the same thing with the word σωτήρ (sotayr). In other words, Jesus or Yeshua is not just the one who saves us from our sins, but who heals us from our infirmities. This makes sense when we understand just what happened in the beginning. (an aside: The Wyclife Bible, the first translation in English doesn’t use the word saver or saviour, but heal and healer)
In the beginning, Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit. Because they did not acknowledge their sin, it had several effects, the most important of which to us is that it brought death into the world. When God made man, everything was perfect, no sickness and death, but when sin entered into the world, so did sickness and death. In other words, sin breaks the relationship between man and God, between man and nature, and between man and man. In other words, all creation is corrupted by our sin, and indeed there are signs in nature today which indicate that things are getting worse. (A note on sin: I am not implying that when one becomes sick it is a result of their personal sin, although that can be true. Once sin entered the world, it twisted the whole creation, allowing sickness to come into the world.)
Then Yeshua came into the world to address this situation. His purpose of coming into the world was to re-establish shalom. Now shalom does not only indicate lack of warfare, but indicates a situation in which man is at peace with himself, nature, other men and God. When one is in a state of shalom, that person has all that he needs.
Hence Yeshua came into the world to bring Shalom and to save-heal us. This aspect is often overlooked. In modern times, our souls, bodies and minds need to be healed, yet we seem to have forgotten. We speak of holistic medicine, but rarely touch the true spiritual aspects of healing. All sickness has physical, mental and spiritual elements. It is only in addressing all three that true healing will occur. The spiritual elements relate to one’s relationship with God and with others. Jesus gives us the power to restore those relationships if we allow him to.
So on the first of January, let us proclaim, Jesus Saves and Jesus heals. Remember the name of Jesus is above all names and everything in the heavens, in the ground beneath and the waters below must bow down and worship him.