Circumcised “According To The Law”

Luke 2:21-24

Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled all the law for us, from the beginning to the end of his manhood, that he might by his obedience unto death bring in everlasting righteousness for us and put away our sins forever, and that he might do so in a way that honors God.

Even as he was coming into the world, our Surety cried, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God!” He did the will of God as a man, all the days of his life. When he had done it completely, he cried, “It is finished,” and breathed out his life in triumphant death. It is by his obedience to the will of God for us as our Surety that we are “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” (Heb. 10:7; John 19:30; Heb. 10:10).

            In Luke 2:21-24, we see our Savior, Mediator, Surety, and Substitute beginning to fulfil the law of God in the room and stead of his people. When he was just a baby, eight days old, he was circumcised “according to the law”

Circumcision was instituted under the law as a symbol of the new birth, that circumcision made without hands by the Spirit of God. The cutting away the filth of the flesh showed the necessity of God’s elect being purified by his grace (Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:10-12; Tit. 3:4-7). But Christ had no sin. Why was he circumcised? The answer is obvious. He was circumcised as our Surety.


            Circumcision identified the Son of God as one with Abraham’s seed whom he came to save (Heb. 2:16-17). He passed by the fallen angels. He passed Adam’s seed. He took hold of Abraham’s seed, to save Abraham’s seed, God’s elect, his covenant people.

           Understand this. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come to save Adam’s race. He did not die to redeem Adam’s race. He did not fulfil the law for Adam’s race. If he had, Adam’s race would be saved. Christ took hold of Abraham’s seed, came to save, died for, and fulfilled all the law for Abraham’s seed, God’s chosen race, his elect nation, his own peculiar people.

Blood Shedding

           Circumcision required the shedding of blood. Here the God-man shed a few drops of blood by a painful act done to him by order of God’s law, as a foreshadowing of the pouring out of his life’s blood unto death, by the order of God’s law, in the most painful, ignominious manner possible.

Debtor To Do The Whole Law

           By submitting to this ordinance of the law, our blessed Savior voluntarily made himself a debtor to do the whole law for us (Gal. 5:3). Circumcision was the legally required pledge of every Israelite that he was a debtor to keep the whole law. Our Lord Jesus Christ, “by being circumcised,” wrote Thomas Goodwin, “did as it were set his hand to being made sin for us.” Christ hereby obliged himself to keep the whole law for us, and to offer, not the blood of bulls and goats, but his own blood to satisfy the law’s penalty for our sins.

Don Fortner