Sermon for December 2, 2012

Jeremiah 33:14-16 (First Sunday in Advent—Series C)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

December 2, 2012

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our text is the Old Testament lesson, Jeremiah 33:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

             Anyone who has or is raising children knows that they don’t come preprogramed.  Parents actually have to teach their children certain behaviors.  One such behavior is sharing.  No, sharing doesn’t come naturally.  Sharing isn’t natural to us because we are naturally selfish and greedy.  That’s the result of original sin in us, that sinful nature we inherited from Adam and Eve through our parents.  Put a child with her toy in a room with another child who wants to play with that toy and see what happens.  You inevitably get, “He took my toy,” or “That’s mine and you can’t have it,” or “Give that back,” followed by crying, screaming, hitting, grabbing, or some other form of defending “my toy” from the enemy. 

While sharing is not in our nature, it is in God’s.  In fact, from our Old Testament text today we learn that God shares with us His very name and His own righteousness.  He shares these with us so that we might be saved from our sin and dwell securely with Him. 

To really see and know the wondrousness of God’s sharing with us, I first need to take you back ten chapters to Jeremiah 23.  You might think I’m reading Jeremiah 33, but with some very important differences.  Listen.  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely.  And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘Yahweh, Our Righteousness.’” (Jer. 23:5-6)

Both Jeremiah 23 and 33 reveal to us what God was going to do “in those days.”  God had promised King David that He would raise up a descendent from David’s line who would reign eternally as King.  But David’s line had been cut off and cut down, left like a stump of a felled tree.  Yet God is always faithful to His promises.  At the right time God, according to God’s “good word” He would cause a sprout to grow out of that tree stump that was David’s line.  That sprout would be a descendent of David and would grow to be the One who would rule an everlasting kingdom of justice and righteousness.  This King would save Israel and Judah.  And He would be called, “Yahweh, Our Righteousness.” 

But Jeremiah 33 has a slightly different ending.  In chapter 23, the King is called “Yahweh, Our Righteousness.”  But in our text, Jerusalem is called, “Yahweh, Our Righteousness.”  Can it be that the King is sharing His name and His righteousness with the people?  Can it be that the people are going to reflect the name and the righteousness bestowed on them by this King?  It not only can be, but it is!

The Righteous Branch that God causes to rise out of David’s line is the promised Messiah, Jesus.  He is the One, Matthew tells us right from the start of his Gospel, who is “the Son of David.”  The angel Gabriel announced the conception and birth of Jesus to “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.”  Gabriel told Mary, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord Yahweh will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 

Thirty-three years later, Jesus is the One who came into the city of Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday to the acclamation, “Hosanna to the Son of David.  Blessed is He who comes in the name of Yahweh.  Blessed is the King who comes in the name of Yahweh.”  The people were calling Jesus the Messiah, the Righteous Branch of David.  And the Pharisees couldn’t handle that, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  Yet Jesus is who He is, Yahweh our Righteousness, God-made-flesh, the Righteous Branch raised up to be King forever.  But in order to be that King, Jesus must execute justice and righteousness in the land.  Sin would have to be dealt with according to God’s holy standards. 

So Jesus did what was just and right according to the “good word” of His heavenly Father.  Jesus, the Righteous Branch, was nailed to the tree of cross in order to bear in Himself our sins.  Jesus took upon Himself our unrighteousness, our selfishness, our greed, our failure to keep the Ten Commandments.  Jesus received the just judgment for sin that should have been rendered against us.  We should have suffered death and hell, but in our place, He endured being forsaken by God the Father for our lies, for our hatred, for our evil.  It is this sacrificial death by Jesus that saved us from our sins.  It is Jesus’ shed blood dripping from the wood of the cross that cleansed us from selfishness and unrighteousness. 

Having purchased and won the complete forgiveness for our sins, Jesus gave to us His own  righteousness.  Jesus lived a perfect life according the Word of God.  He kept the Ten Commandments without fail in thought, word, and action.  He satisfied God’s demands for holiness by His life and by His perfect obedience.  And so Jesus shares with us what is His—His holiness and righteousness.  It is indeed a great exchange!  He took our sins and exchanged them for His righteousness.  And with Jesus’ righteousness comes His very name.  Christ shares His name, His righteousness, Himself, with us!  “In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely.  And this is the name by which Jerusalem will be called, “Yahweh, Our Righteousness.”  Jesus’ own name (He will be called: “Yahweh, Our Righteousness”) is now given to His redeemed and forgiven people.  “Jerusalem” stands in here for the whole people of God.  We, the Church, are indeed the people of God, heirs of God’s covenant promises to the people of Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. (Gal. 6:16)  Through the Gospel applied to us in the waters of Holy Baptism, we have received the very name of God in Christ, making us His children.  In receiving God’s name, the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we also receive the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness and holiness of our Savior Jesus Christ in the forgiveness of sins.  In and through the waters of Baptism, we are saved!  We dwell in the security of the One true God, Yahweh Our Righteousness, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Security: profound and permanent security is yours in Jesus.  You are in Him, not by your own effort, not by your own achievement, not by something you did or didn’t do.  You are in Jesus—David’s Righteous Branch—because He shared Himself with you.  He joined Himself to you in Baptism, giving you His holy name and His perfect righteousness.  Your sins of selfishness and greed are done away with, along with all your sins and failings to love God and neighbor completely and perfectly.  Jesus’ resurrection from the dead has given you life eternal with Him who reigns forever and ever.  Not even death can take that away from you.  You are saved and you are secure in Jesus!

Behold, the days have come when God fulfilled the good word which He spoke to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  And “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4)  Jesus has shared His righteousness and holiness with us and He has taken away our sins.  We stand before the Lord righteous and holy, even as He Himself is righteous and holy.  “Yahweh, Our Righteousness” is His name, and it’s our name, because Christ shares that name with us whom He redeemed and saved and loves.  In the surety of faith that you are saved by Christ, the Son of David, the Son of God, live each day securely in the name and in the righteousness of Jesus your Savior.  Amen.

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