Sermon

Jeremiah 33:14-16

 

The F135 Joint Strike Fighter is made by Rolls Royce Company.  At least part of it is. The version we are talking about is made specifically for the Navy.  It is a jet airplane that can take off vertically.  To do this it has a fan made out of carbon composite that can lift it off the deck of an aircraft carrier.  This fan is made by a company from Boerne, Texas.  It has to be made to exact dimensions and tolerances.  It has to be better than .001 of an inch from perfect!

 

The door to heaven has tight tolerances.  It has closer tolerances than .001 off true perfection.  You have to be absolutely perfect to get in.  And so we would ask, what’s so important about righteousness?  That’s what the reading you just heard talked about.  It said there “The LORD Our Righteousness.”  Righteousness---rightness---is your tolerance adjuster.  It is God’s tolerance factor.  Righteousness is what make it possible for you to get through the perfect door of heaven.  Righteousness is what makes you able to fly to heaven and fit through the door.

 

And if it is so that righteousness is so important, the word “our” is also important. The LORD Our Righteousness. At Christmas if it isn’t our present under the tree, then it isn’t so good.  (Understand that not all feel this way, but most do.) We celebrate what we get for Christmas.   Children ask themselves that on the playground when they get back to school. That might sometimes come from a selfish way of thinking…what I get.  But when it comes to Righteousness and God’s gift to us at Christmas, it has to be “our.”  It has to be “me”…”mine.”  It has to be “you” and “yours.”  And together it has to---it must---be “our.”  The LORD Our Righteousness.

 

 

And so on this first Sunday in the special preparation for Christmas, our theme is what the prophet  Jeremiah tells us….

 

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

1. God keeps his promise

2. Jesus is the Branch

3. Jesus is the Savior.

 

1. God keeps his promise

The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.  

 

The Kingdom of Israel ceased to exist in 720 B.C.  That’s when the Assyrians took it forever into captivity.  Jeremiah the prophet came on the scene a hundred years after this had happened to Israel.  When he spoke of Israel here and the gracious promise God had made to Israel, Israel as a nation was not there.  It was gone.  God had kept his promise there too.

 

There is good news and there is bad news about God’s promise.  The bad news is that when he promises, “The soul that sins will die” it is going to happen.  When he tells his people---promises his people---that when they leave him and his word and his way, bad things will happen to them, it is actually going to happen just that way.  Israel was proof of this.  Jesus came at Christmas to speak to people in this world about the promised consequences of sin.  He did this for 33 years.  People didn’t like it.  People killed him for it.  We didn’t like it either.  Something in each of us rears up and revolts and rebels when it hears what God promises to unbelief and an uncaring attitude and an ungodly undertow in life.

 

That’s what makes the words of our reading this morning so important and so happy.  Our God also keeps his promises when it comes to his grace and his mercy…even to people who are not models of righteousness by themselves.  Listen once more to what he says, “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.”  The promise is that he will come to make us righteous and make a way for us to fit his incredibly tight tolerances.  This is his word.  It is “Righteousness.”  Christmas comes so that Jesus can make us righteous.  Christmas comes so that we can claim and have God’s own righteousness so that the words we hear become our hope and help and happiness.  It’s God’s promise to us.  

 

The LORD Our Righteousness.

 

2. Jesus is the Branch

When we consider God’s promise that we are going to be---and are already---righteous, we secondly see that Jesus is the Branch.  God speaks about Jesus being a branch when he promises us that we are going to be righteous.

 

In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.

 

If you had trouble wondering how a branch could be connected to God’s righteous tolerance, you had only to listen to the Bible passage to see how it is.  Jesus is the one who comes from David’s line…from David’s rootstock.  It wasn’t a righteous rootstock.  That is for sure.  We all know David’s imperfections because the Bible is so clear with regard to describing them to us.  His most intimate and personal goings-on are there for you to see and for you to shake your head at.  You don’t need a ruler to see that David’s life was crooked.  He couldn’t make it through heaven’s straight door any more than his descendants could…or we can.  But Jesus comes from David’s family and “he will do what is just and right in the land.”  

 

Into the crooked rootstock comes the perfect and straight Branch.  No one has ever seen a branch like this one.  Branches are the very picture of something that isn’t straight.  But Jesus is the horticultural exception to all branches.  He is straight.  What he does is straight and true.  And what Jesus does is transferred to our lives and to us so that we have this exact tolerance demanded by God…this straightness and this rightness. Jesus is that Branch.

And so it is true according to what God’s promise is and what Jesus the Branch does.  Jeremiah said it right…The LORD Our Righteousness.

 

3. Jesus is the Savior

And as you look at the words The LORD Our Righteousness please note that Jesus is our Savior.  Listen closely to what Jeremiah says here and you will see it and know it.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.  Jesus is what these words say.  His very name means “Savior.”  He is the only one who can make us to live in safety.  Jesus.

 

Getting through that door to heaven with its tight tolerances is not something we can choose to ignore…like whether you want to go to the company Christmas party or participate in Black Friday shopping.  You have to get through that door.  Just like when the waters of the Flood got knee high people had to have an ark.  Please know that at that time when God’s promised flood was coming there were many interested people in getting through the doors of the ark.  The whole world was interested in it then because the whole world understood then that what they had thought was discretionary was really paramount instead.  

 

Christmas leads us to a safe place to be…the only safe place.  The Lord our Righteousness is about our safety.  Why risk Judgment Day without this safety?  Come and peek down into the manger and see the Savior of the world.  See the one who comes to make you righteous.  Come and see your righteousness!  In this way, you can see yourself.  You can see in Jesus what God sees in you.  Listen to the phrase and theme again: “The LORD Our Righteousness.”

 

We will live in safety!   This too is the promise of God.  Safety has to do with the removal of wrong and danger.  The world we live in is unsafe.  There are many places to fall in it.  There are many evils prowling around in it.  It isn’t a safe place to raise children.  There are too many temptations for children that they won’t be able to resist.  Too much bad music.  Too many bad movies.  Too many faithless and bad friends.  Too much peer pressure.  It isn’t a safe place to get old in.  There are too many temptations to despair. Too many worries connected to health and well being.  Too much emphasis on having enough money in the bank.  Too much loneliness.  The world you live in is not a safe place to work.  There are too many layoffs.  Wages are too low to think God can bless you that way or they are too high to cause you to think you don’t need God and his care.  There are too many diseases and ailments in this world to make it a safe place to live.  Too many viruses and genetical aberrations.  Too many germs.  Not enough vaccines and doctors and real answers to sickness and disease.

 

Do you see how unsafe things are around you?  Do you see the comfort at this time that we can hear God’s promise, “In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.  This is the name by which it (he) will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.

 

Merry Christmas!  Enjoy the rightness of it all.  Get God’s good present: The LORD Our Righteousness!  Amen.