Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming. During this season, believers prepare for the coming celebration of the birth of our Savior. We also prepare for the coming of Christ the King on Judgment Day. Through the living and active word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ also comes to life in our hearts.
The importance of our Savior, the Savior of all people, is discovered in the very name of Jesus. Therefore, God highly honored him & gave him a name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow & every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-10).
There are numerous names given to the coming Savior in the Old Testament. Each name highlights an attribute or facet of Jesus’ atoning work. This Advent, I will be focusing on some of those names. Today, in Jeremiah, the name given to Jesus is Our Righteousness.
Specifically, our Scripture reads: The Lord is Our Righteousness. What does Jeremiah mean by this name? It means at least 2 things: God fulfills his promises & Jesus is our kingly priest.
Jeremiah was called by God to proclaim God’s truth to God’s wicked and rebellious people. Israel was suffering through a period of very wicked kings. God’s message to them was one of judgment.
Jeremiah was not well received because of God’s message of judgment against sinfulness. Verses 14-16 are a good news gem in the midst of a message of doom and gloom. The Lord makes his promises and the days are coming when every promise will be fulfilled. The Lord’s fulfillment includes a gracious promise: God will provide grace and mercy.
Verse 15: In those days and at that time didn’t happen until almost a century later. The righteous branch to be raised up will be Jesus. Jesus would come and do what is just and right in the land.
Verse 16 speaks of salvation & safety. The Roman government provided peace & safety during the lifetime of Jesus on earth. God’s wicked and rebellious people were given divine promises. And God fulfilled every one of them.
Our gracious God loves his creation with an everlasting love. Adam and Eve lived in the perfect world that God had created. But they listened to Satan and sinned against God. The perfect creation of God was destroyed by sin. Think about this: imperfection entered the world in Genesis 3. Yet God did not destroy Adam and Eve. The very first thing God did for the disobedience of man was to promise a Savior! Speaking to the snake, God said: I will put contempt between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers; they will strike your head, but you will strike their heels (Genesis 3:15). There would now be distrust (or contempt) between Satan and mankind. The offspring of Eve would not have such a cozy relationship with Satan. Jesus would live, die, and rise again in order to strike the very head of Satan. Satan could only strike Jesus’ heel (that is, leave nail prints).
Some would to point at Adam and Eve and blame them alone. It is true that the world was changed forever by their willful, sinful disobedience. Others would try to blame Satan for everything evil. This is true too. But each one of us is also responsible for every one of our sinful thoughts & words & actions. We dare not deny the responsibility of our sinful nature. On this side of heaven we are unable to escape the effects of sin living in us. Isaiah puts it like this: We have all become like the unclean; all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag. All of us wither like a leaf; our sins, like the wind, carry us away (Isa. 64:6). All our righteous deeds are unclean. Sin is alive and well, even in the lives of believers.
Thankfully, the Lord God does not leave us to fend for ourselves. On our own we would be lost and condemned creatures – forever. This is not what God desires for humanity. Rather, our gracious God desires salvation for all people. This is why the Lord promised a Savior immediately after the first sin. God is patient. God’s promises are made. God’s promises are fulfilled. It would take thousands of years before the promise made to Adam and Eve was finally fulfilled. But when the fulfillment of the time came, God sent his Son, born through a woman, & born under the Law. This was so he could redeem those under Law so that we could be adopted. So Paul writes in Galatians 4:4-5. God’s Son, Jesus, paid the price for us to become God’s children.
The Lord is Our Righteousness. The first meaning is that our gracious God fulfills all his promises. The second meaning is that Jesus is our Kingly Priest. A time of safety was promised for Israel and Judah. That did not happen during Jeremiah’s lifetime.
The Lord Our Righteousness would be the descendant of David bringing internal, eternal peace. The Lord Jesus Christ would bring and become the righteousness for the sins of the world. The one, & only one, who could make us “right” with God.
The Lord had promised to Solomon that a descendant would always sit on the throne. Yet the time of kings came and was gone. There were no more kings in Israel during Jesus’ day. Who was David’s descendant? Jesus. Jesus was of the house and line of David.
There were many priests offering many sacrifices during the earthly ministry of Jesus. Yet soon after Jesus’ ascension the priestly office dwindled. Today there are no sacrifices. Why? Because Jesus is the perfect High Priest that the Lord God Almighty had promised.
The Lord is Our Righteousness! We who are imperfect and unrighteous are saved by the holy, innocent blood of Jesus. Jesus is our perfect and righteous sacrifice. There is no need any longer for anyone to make any more sacrifices to try to pay for sins. Jesus’ sacrifice was complete and perfect. The apostle Peter writes: Christ himself suffered on account of sins, once for all, the righteous one on behalf of the unrighteous. He did this in order to bring you into the presence of God. Christ was put to death as a human, but made alive by the Spirit (1 Pet. 3:18). The Lord Our Righteousness brings us who are unrighteous into his heavenly kingdom. We are saved by grace through faith.
Jesus is our priest. Jesus made the perfect sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. Not only did Jesus make this perfect sacrifice – Jesus is that perfect sacrifice. Too many people today try to add works as a part of eternal salvation. But everything has been done for us once and for all. The complete payment for all sin has been perfectly fulfilled. This is God’s great love for us. In this way we know what love is: Christ died for us. Our lives are changed forever. Paul tells us in Ephesians: Imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us. (Eph. 5:1-2). The Lord Jesus Christ is Our Righteousness.
Christ fulfilled the Old Testament offices that God had established for the good of his people. As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed God’s good news. As a priest, Jesus offered himself as the perfect sacrifice. Jesus was and is King. But our King is far different than any ordinary earthly king. They will make war on the Lamb, but the Lamb will emerge victorious, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with him are called, chosen and faithful, the Book of Revelation tells us. Jesus is Lamb and King. A lamb is not very mighty or powerful. Jesus is that Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is Jesus’ might and power. Jesus is also our King who has conquered every enemy for us.
The Lord is Our Righteousness. Despite our disobedience, our gracious God fulfills all his promises. God is not a man that he could lie. The greatest promise made and fulfilled is that Christ the Savior is born. So we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas (and again on Judgment Day). Paul writes in Romans 3: But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him (Rom. 3:21-22).
The Lord is Our Righteousness. We know, we believe, and we confess this fact by grace through faith. God fulfills his promises. Jesus is our King and High Priest. Amen.