As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

In the Name of Jesus

Jesus was named as an infant (Luke 2:15-21). So what does it mean when we pray, “in the name of Jesus?” There is no single account of a prayer in the New Testament using that phrase in a prayer. We can pray in the name of Jesus without a rote phrase. Saying the phrase is not wrong, but it can lose its meaning, degenerating to a mere signal that a prayer is over. How then can we pray in Jesus’ name as he said (John 16:22-27)? The word for name also means reputation, authorization, power behind the name, in honor of and even for the sake of the person named. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are praying in honor of the most sacred name, with his full approval and in awe of his most wonderful reputation.

(Reference: Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament Library. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000. BibleWorks, v. 3.5.)

Circumcision of the Heart

Although Jesus was circumcised as an infant (Luke 2:15-21) he gave no command for Christians to be circumcised in the flesh. Yet, the Old Testament spoke of a circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:15-17; 30:5-7; Jeremiah 4:3-5) which applies to both old and new covenants. God uses outward things for a lesson about more important inner things. What happens when someone is circumcised in the heart? Physical circumcision pictured what God really wants, a change in heart and soul, a different attitude (Romans 2:28-29). This is a focus on the things of the Spirit, not the letter of the law. We look to praise from God and not human beings. Belonging to a church or a special ethnic group does not impress God as much as a heart that loves him and our fellow humans.

Circumcision of Jesus

Like most Jewish boys, Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:15-21). We may think of it as a bloody practice and that opinion is not new. Over three thousand years ago, Zipporah accused her husband Moses of being a bloody man because of their son’s circumcision (Exodus 4:24-26). Some may even believe that it is a primitive practice that society should outgrow. Yet, modern scientific and medical research continues to show how far advanced the ancients were in this regard. The World Journal of Urology [1] concluded that positive benefits include decreased risk of HIV infection. Web MD [2] suggests that circumcision provides a 50% reduction in HIV transmission, threefold reduction in HPV infections which can cause cervical cancer, reduced syphilis and chlamydia, about 10 times less infant urinary tract infections, and virtual elimination of serious penile cancers.

[1] World Journal of Urology, Male circumcision and HIV infection risk, John N. Krieger, Department of Urology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA, Springer-Verlag 2011


Political Salvation

When Jesus was born, the Jews were looking for political salvation from “corrupt and self-serving rulers” (N. T. Wright. Simply Jesus. 2011. Harper Collins. p. 55.). Does that sound familiar? People have not changed. We naively believe that salvation is within human ability. We look for a hero to be our national leader who can rescue us from government corruption and oppression by those with wealth and power. The only problem is that with each successive leader, we are equally disappointed, as they do some things right, but most things wrong. The whole world is ruled by highly educated, very intelligent people who cannot solve humanity’s problems. Luke 2:1-20 proclaimed a change that would make the difference. It was a birth in the most humble of circumstances, the arrival of a leader such as this world had never seen.

The Real Santa Claus

Nicholas, was born around 280 AD on the Mediterranean coast of what is now the Turkish Riviera. The only son of wealthy Greek Christians, Nicholas gave his inheritance away to the poor. As bishop of Myra, he suffered persecution under Diocletian. He was tortured and imprisoned. Emperor Constantine had the persecuted Christians released. One legend tells of a poor man who Nicholas gave three bags of gold as a dowry for his daughters, so they did not have to become prostitutes. Nicholas was also part of the Council of Nicea in 325 AD where he contributed to the Nicene Creed and condemned Arianism. Nicholas saved three innocent men from execution and reproved the governor for taking bribes to convict them. He became known for his secret gift-giving. The name Santa Claus is a corruption of the Dutch for Saint Nicholas.