He Gives Us His Name

From “Gospel Sermon for New Year’s Day,” Church Postils (1544)

Circumcision, part of the Law, is justly subject to Christ, and he has power over it…. Christ is “placed under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law,” Gal. 4:5… If we believe in Christ, and the Law rebuke us as sinners, death press in on us, and our wretched consciences driven to hell, then reproach Death and the Law with those things borne by Christ… Death will flee in disgrace…

His name is rightly called on this day “Jesus,” which is “Savior,” for savior means one who helps, redeems, saves, and cures everyone. The Hebrew language calls this one “Jesus.”  So the angel Gabriel told Joseph in his sleep, “She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins,” Matt 1:21. Here the angel himself explains why he is called Savior, “Jesus,” namely because he is help and salvation to his people…

The naming of children signifies that by faith we have a name and are known before God…. What then is our name?  Doubtless as Christ gives us all that is his, so he also gives to us his name. Therefore, all of us are called Christians from him, God’s children from him, Jesus from him, savior from him, and whatever is his name, that also is ours… These are the overwhelming riches of his blessings which he pours out on us, so that our hearts may be free, joyful, peaceful, and fearless.  Then we keep the Law willingly and cheerfully.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest and theologian, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. His teaching about justification by faith, revealed in his study of the Pauline Epistles, became the core of Protestant teaching about salvation, and inspired a wide-reaching series of reform in Christian ministry, worship, and spiritual practice. His Church Postils were model exegetical sermons on the lectionary texts for the Sundays and Holy Days of the Church Year drafted to assist pastors in preaching. Martin Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches. 


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