Day 1 — Sunday, November 28, 2021

“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. 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. 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.’”
Jeremiah 33:14–16

To the Israelites who were the first audience of this prophecy, suffering corruption from within and persecution from Babylon, it meant a king restored to the throne of David in Jerusalem and priests performing sacrifices in a renewed temple. The first coming of Jesus as the true successor of David completely changed how his followers think about kingship and righteousness. Yet how can this ancient text still point us forward? What does it mean for the Lord to be our righteousness?

I tend to find righteousness in being on the right team. This can mean the right nation or church but is usually subtler, in ways I’m still discovering: the right religion or way of thinking, even doing the right thing. It’s hard to conceive of a righteousness that is not about right as opposed to wrong, just as it’s hard to imagine a kingdom that is not about a king executing justice through some sort of force. But the definition of biblical righteousness that makes more sense to me is right relationship, just as Jesus shows true kingship to work by vulnerable, non-coercive, self-sacrificial love.

When Jesus takes up the metaphor of the branch in John 15, he calls himself the true vine and invites us to be branches that abide in him so as to bear fruit. We are to expect to be pruned (and haven’t we had a time of pruning?) so as to bear more fruit. The fruit is love, and the abiding is in his love. Those called to abide he calls friends, not slaves, because he has made known to us all he has heard from his Father. In this season, let us abide together in love and wait to be surprised by the fruit of the peaceful kingdom coming.

Dr. Curtis Gruenler is a professor of English.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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