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