On the eighth day after his birth — January 1 — the Lord Jesus was circumcised in the flesh according to the Abrahamic covenant.
In submitting to this Christ confirmed his true human nature. He also fulfilled the letter of the ceremonial law, in order to abolish it. This was also a foreshadowing: as a child, Christ shed his blood in order to fulfill the Law; when the time came, he shed his blood on the Cross in order to abolish the Law.
The Law has come to an end since Christ became an infant, and revealed as the fulfiller of the Law he accepted circumcision and abolished the curse of the Law.
Sabbaths and Circumcision, the proud boast of the Hebrews, have ceased now that Christ has been made manifest, and the spring of grace has shone.
– Canon of the Feast
In this 19th century Russian icon, Joseph and the Mother of God present Christ to the priests. The Child's arms are crossed in a gesture of submission to the Jewish law, similar to the way in which we cross our arms when receiving Holy Communion. The law is represented by the tablets of the Commandments on the altar behind the priests, overshadowed by cherubim. One of the priests holds a bowl, and the other a knife.
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