22 Feb Righteousness Divine
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.” -Psalm 113:7
Seated on his eternal throne of righteousness and justice, the LORD reigned. Robed in majesty and belted with strength, he looked upon the earth ravaged by sin – and he saw its destruction. Mankind, in its sin, stood condemned and hopeless. The law was not enough to bridge the gap between humans and their shockingly holy Maker. Their sins testified against them and required punishment, and they could not just attempt to try harder. Their very hearts were sick, bent away from God and toward themselves. Trying harder to obey the law would never enable them to love the God they naturally rejected. In tenderness, God moved to action, that he might free those rebels doomed to die, and lift the needy from the ash heap of brokenness.
In love, the Holy God from everlasting sent himself into the ash heap, stepping into chaos and darkness. Jesus, now robed in human flesh and belted with meekness, touched his feet to the earth he had spoken into being.
Jesus emptied himself. Humbly, he walked forward in the mission his father had sent him to accomplish: to seek and save those who were lost. To wash feet. To hunger and thirst and suffer as a human. To be tempted as we are, yet without sin. To serve, and trust, and obey. To fulfill all righteousness.
Forsaking riches and honor and comfort, the sinless lamb of God lived the life we were meant to live but never could. He became the only suitable savior for us. His pure-hearted obedience led the religious elite to scorn him, the prideful to mock him, Judas to betray him, and the crowd to crucify him. In joy, he endured and pressed on, knowing his Father’s will – and because he deeply loved those who hated him.
Jesus’ humble obedience, submission to his father, holy anger, tender compassion, love for justice, and delight to do good accomplished perfect righteousness. This very righteousness would be credited to those who believed in him for eternal life.
The rebels were not let off the hook. They were redeemed, and made righteous. They were given not a second chance or a clean slate, but the perfect record of Christ. The needy were not merely comforted in the ash heap. They were lifted out of it – by a strength not their own.
He left his Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite his grace!
Emptied himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Readings for this week:
Psalms 93, 113
Philippians 2: 1-11
2 Corinthians 5:21, 2 Corinthians 8:9
Matthew 3:15, 20:28
This post is second in a series celebrating Lent, for the purpose of preparing our hearts to treasure Christ more as Easter approaches. Each post in the series is coupled with art from local artist Kathryn Schermbeck. Our hope is that these words, reading guides, and pieces of art would lead you to worship as you remember the radical and costly grace of God. Click here for the first post in the series.