Tuesday, December 27, 2016

His righteousness has He openly shown in the sight of the nations.

Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Psalm 67:3–5

They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by all the peoples. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Let the rivers clap their hands, and let the hills ring out with joy before the LORD, when He comes to judge the earth. In righteousness shall He judge the world and the peoples with equity. Psalm 98

So I turned to NT Wright this morning to read about righteousness, because for some reason we are to rejoice over it, unlike how I felt as a little naughty girl when my mom would warn, “Just wait until your father gets home,” and I would pace back and forth in front of the big living room window, peering nervously down the street, waiting for his black VW beetle to round the bend to mete out my well-deserved judgment.

“Paul saw that the Jewish problem of God’s righteousness (if the creator of the world is Israel’s covenant God, why is Israel still oppressed?) had been answered in a new and striking way in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The answer had, in fact, forced a restatement of the question, demonstrating as it did the universal sinfulness of Jews as well as pagans.  The gospel, Paul declares, proves that God is in the right despite appearances: he has kept covenant with Abraham, has dealt properly with sin, has acted and will act without partiality, and upholds all those who cast themselves, helpless, on his mercy.”

And Wright says that both Augustine and Luther veered off the gospel path, and made righteousness more of a thing we did, piling good deeds on one side of the scale to make up for all of our wickedness on the other side.

And the key word is “helpless” as we throw ourselves upon His mercy. “And sometimes,” Wright adds, “this complex meaning explains the occasional instances when the Septuagint uses dikaiosynē to translate not sedeq and its cognates but other roots such as hesed (grace, covenant mercy).”

He is the One who completed the Law, His grace, His mercy. It is not I, less I should ever boast or for even a moment judge or begrudge another.

And now that sin has been dealt with properly, we can rejoice, because all is being made right. Even the rivers clap their hands and the hills ring out with joy.

And the stars. This morning when I stepped outside into the almost-freezing fresh morning, the stars overhead were so brilliant that they too seemed to be laughing. Not unkindly, but nevertheless, with perspective. The battle has been won.

Love has triumphed.

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free

Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy,

a joy to be shared by all the peoples.