Righteousness of Christ

Isaiah 53:11

After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

When we think of the righteousness of Christ, probably the first thing that comes to mind is the sinlessness of Jesus.  That is, after all, the reason that Christ is righteous.

Jesus’ sinlessness is important and a major part of Christian theology.  What we don’t think about is how Christ’s righteousness is given to us.  As the verse above says, “my righteous servant will justify many.”  To justify is to make right.

Righteousness is something that God is able to transfer or give as He chooses.  Genesis 15:6 tells us that this comes by faith.  “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

Today, we receive righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ and we receive grace, which is the righteousness of Christ.  Grace can easily be remembered as the acronym God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense.

Because Jesus was righteous, we too can be righteous through our belief in Him.  We are unable of living a sinless life but Jesus did it for us and paid the penalty that we deserved instead.

The Compassion of Christ

Isaiah 40:11

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

One of the first songs many children learn in Sunday school is “Jesus Loves Me.”  This song is simple but contains a very important truth – Jesus loves us.  This love is a tender and compassionate love, just as a child needs and expects from his or her parents.

Sheep are almost completely dependent upon their shepherd.  They easily go astray and get lost without someone to guide them.  Isaiah 53:6 tells us that “we all, like sheep, have gone astray.”  When we wander off, we need to be gently brought back onto the right path.

There are times when compassion is not the best option – see “The Zealousness of Christ” for an example – but it is certainly a preferable option.  Only when compassion is continually rejected is another method needed to bring a person back into the flock.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  What He does is always in the best interest of His sheep.  It is why He gave up His life.  Without His sacrifice, there would be no forgiveness of sins.  Because of Christ’s compassion though, He has done everything for our redemption.

Christ’s Humility

Philippians 2:8

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Philippians 2 describes what is known as Christ’s kenosis, or the emptying of Himself.  In this, Jesus emptied Himself of His godliness to take on flesh and come to earth.

At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth and focus on how His birth was humble even in human terms – being birthed in a stable and being laid in a feeding trough.  This is just a physical reflection of Jesus’ true humility in coming to earth.

We can’t fully grasp everything that Jesus gave up when He became a man.  He left the splendor of heaven to be surrounded by people who would mock and despise Him.  He left perfect to sit in the squalor of a sinful world.

While a man, Jesus endured rejection by multitudes and was betrayed by a close friend.  None of this comes close to the pain that He endured on the cross however.  Not only was there physical pain but as is discussed in “Jesus’ Last Words”, He endured great spiritual pain.

Jesus didn’t have to go through any of this.  But He did.  He willingly humbled Himself to such a position because of His love for us.

Jesus’ Last Words

Mark 15:34

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We all experience times in our life when it feels as if God is ignoring our prayers.  We search inwardly to determine if there is sin in our life that prevents our prayers from being heard.  We question whether we are expected to wait for God’s timing or if we have been told “no.”

But in the worst times of our life, God has never really abandoned us.  We may be frustrated that things are not like we desire or even that God doesn’t appear to respond to us.  But we have never been abandoned.

When Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” it is not exaggeration.  At that moment the sins of the world were laid upon Jesus and for the first time in all of eternity His relationship with God the Father was broken.

Jesus’ mission on earth was completed at that moment.  As an innocent man He had taken on the sins of the world.  Just as sin separates us from God, the sins that were laid upon Jesus separated Him from God the Father.

After Jesus’ spiritual death for our sins, He gave up His physical life as well.  Because of His sinlessness He didn’t remain separated from God nor did He remain dead.  We know that Jesus arose triumphantly as a victor over both sin and death.

Jesus Judged Innocent

Matthew 27:23-24

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

Everything about Jesus’ trial was illegal.  It was held in secret in the middle of the night.  It was done without witnesses.  And the Israelites had no legal authority to execute anyone as that power was held strictly by the Roman government.

The fact that a Roman judge, Pontius Pilate, found that Jesus had not committed a crime, and certainly not one worthy of death, makes Jesus’ crucifixion all the more absurd.

As a representative of the Roman authority Pilate could have declared Jesus to be innocent and put an end to the trial and ordered the people to disperse.  Instead he literally washed his hands of the ordeal and handed Jesus over to the mob to do with as they pleased, which he knew meant crucifixion.

It is difficult to stand up for what is right.  Pilate had all of the legal backing and authority to protect an innocent man and he still cowered before the mass of people who had assembled to have Jesus killed.

Pilate is a coward but he had one thing right.  Jesus had committed no crime and was not worthy of death or any other punishment.  The punishment that Jesus received would be in the place of all of the people.  The crowd’s response to Pilate is not just ironic, it is prophetic.  They declare, “Let His blood be on our heads and on our children’s heads.”  Jesus’ blood would indeed cover them all, but most would not accept it.