Why Circumcision?

Circumcision and Name of Jesus Monday

Luke 2:21

“And after eight days, when the child was circumcised, his name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

Why did God not command to circumcise the fingers, hand, food,ear or eye, or some other member? He selects the one that has no purpose in daily human life and was created by God for the procreation of nature. If what is evil was to be cut off, it would have been just to circumcise the hand or the tongue before all other members, because all evil deeds among men are carried out by tongue and hand. Some people say that God ordained circumcision as he did because the evil lust
shows itself mostly in that part of the body, which is also why Adam and Eve experienced the disobedience of the flesh there and sought to cover their shame. This is all true, but beyond that, we also see here prefigured what we always say: God does not condemn or save the person for the sake of the works but the works for the sake of the person. This is why our deficiency is not caused by the works, but by nature: The person, nature, and entire being is corrupted in us by Adam’s fall. This is why no work can be good in us until nature and our personal being is changed and renewed. The tree is not good; this is why the fruits are evil. This is why God, in time, taught everyone by circumcision that no one may become good based on works or laws, and all works and labor to become good or saved are in vain as long as the nature and person are not renewed. Look, if he had commanded to circumcise the hand or tongue, this would have been a sign that the defect could be remedied by words and works; that he was pleased with the nature and person and only hated words and works. But now that he takes the member that does not do any other work than that the nature and personal being come about through it, he clearly indicates that the whole being of nature is faulty; that its birth and origin are corrupted and sin. This is original sin or natural sin or personal sin–the true chief sin. If this sin did not exist, there would be no actual sin. This sin does not consist in acts, as does all other sin. Rather, it is, lives, and does all sin; and it is the essential sin. It does not sin for an hour or a time, but wherever the person is, and however long the person exists, there this sin is present as well. God only looks to this natural sin. It cannot be driven out by any law or any punishment, even if there were a thousand hells. God’s grace alone must sweep it out, as it cleanses and renews the nature. The law only shows this sin and teaches to know it, but it does not help from it. It only prevents the hand and members from doing what is sinful, but is unable to prevent the person and nature from being sinful. For the person and nature have preceded the law from birth; they were already sinful before the law forbade them to sin. Just as no one has it in his power to be born and to receive the natural life, so it is in no one’s power to be without this sin or to get rid of it. Our Creator alone must do away with it. This is why God first gives us the law by which man knows such sin of his and becomes thirsty for grace; then God gives us the gospel and helps us.

St. Louis ed., 11:286-287.

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