Tired of politics? Then look at the perfect king, Jesus, who will never lie to you, never break a promise, and never let you down. Look to your perfect Shepherd-King to take care of you. He recovers all the lost. And he provides righteousness -- the very righteousness God demands to enter his heaven -- for everyone! Read (or listen to: or ) this sermon based on Jeremiah 23:2-6 to learn more of your perfect King...
Your Perfect King Cares for You
A sermon based on Jeremiah 23:2-6
Sunday, November 21, 2010 – Christ the King Sunday C
It's been said that if you need a friend in Washington D.C. you'd better get a dog. Whether well-founded or not, politicians today often have the reputation of being corrupt; of raising taxes to raise their salaries; of ignoring justice for personal gain. In short, they often have the reputation of abusing the charge given them.
Corrupt politicians are nothing new. In about 600 B.C. the prophet Jeremiah was called to preach God's Word to a corrupt government. Sent to the kings of Judah he was told to rebuke their corruption. He was sent with the message, "Unless you serve God faithfully, he will destroy your palace and your kingdom. The end of Judah is at hand."
And yet, Jeremiah's message of doom was not to be God's final word. God's mercy and grace would triumph. After the judgment of Judah would come a time of restoration; a time of forgiveness. That time would come with their perfect King, the one who would sit on David's throne.
That King did come. He did bring forgiveness. He's our perfect King, the Lord Our Righteousness. He cares for us perfectly and he demonstrated his love for us by recovering all those who were lost and by providing righteousness for all. Listen again to the prophecy of Christ our King as it's recorded for us in Jeremiah 23v2-6…
2 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done," declares the Lord. 3 "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the Lord. 5 "The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.
I. He Recovers All the Lost (v.1-4)
During Jeremiah's lifetime the leadership of Israel had proven itself corrupt. The priests, the elders, the false prophets, the corrupt kings had all abused the charge given them. They sought dishonest gain, oppressed the innocent, and extorted money from those they were to care for. Rather than shepherd God's people, they fleeced the flock, exploiting them for personal gain. In their selfish greed, those charged with the spiritual welfare of God's people were letting them spiritually starve.
And the result? Israel was scattered. Because they had not been fed the Word of God, they scattered to every kind of idolatry and false worship imaginable. And as a result of their unfaithfulness, God punished the nation. Many were taken captive and scattered to foreign lands. And God would punish those responsible. Jeremiah reported: "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done," declares the Lord.
God told the wicked leaders, "Because you haven't visited my people to care for them, I'm going to pay a little visit to you." God would soon put an end to the rule of the house of David allowing an enemy nation to destroy Judah for its sins; its sins of greed, of selfishness, of dishonoring God's Word.
But in his grace God wouldn't let them remain scattered. He would care for his flock himself. Jeremiah's message continues: 3 "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the Lord.
God himself would gather his people together again. He would bring them out of captivity to their homeland in Judah. He would bring them devoted shepherds who would faithfully tend God's flock with the Word. He would send men like Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubbabel; men who would share God's message of law and of gospel, the message of the coming Messiah and his incomparable grace to them. And with that message of God's grace, his people would no longer be afraid of God's wrath, no longer terrified by him. They would be at peace with God. Peace through their righteous King…
But what about us? This prophecy was directed against the leaders of Israel. Does that mean if you're not a church leader, a pastor or a politician, this prophecy doesn't apply? No. It's written for all of us.
We all at times act like those leaders of Israel. We too act greedy and selfish. We too at times despise God's Word. And we too need God's stern warning. We need our sin pointed out so we recognize our great need for a Savior.
And God's gracious promises apply to all of us as well. Though we are a rebellious people by nature, our King didn't leave us scattered. He sent us faithful prophets and apostles to be heralds of the King's message; men like, Peter, John and Paul, who through their Scriptures tend over us with God's Word, who remove our fear with the message of our perfect King…
II. He Provides Righteousness for All (v.5-6)
Who is this King? The prophecy of Jeremiah gives us some clues... 5 "The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.
What do we know about our King? First, the prophecy points out that he would be a descendant of David. God promised to David that one of his descendants would sit on his throne forever; that the Messiah would come from him. That's our first clue.
Next, the text describes him as a Branch. But the Hebrew word used here is not the word for a branch in the sense that we would think of, dependant upon a full grown tree for strength and life. It's the word for a new shoot, a branch that grows out of a dying stump or where a tree has recently fallen and decayed. This branch is independent. Long after the line of Judah's Kings was cut off and dead, a new king would emerge from it, one that was different with new life, independent from the tree. That's clue two.
Finally we're told this King would be righteous, that he would do what is just. This King would not be corrupt like the previous kings of Judah. He would be without fault, with no guilt of his own, right in all he did, spotless, sinless, and absolutely perfect. This clue gives it away.
No human being can be judged righteous on his own merit. There was only one who lived such a perfectly righteous life. The Son of David, the New Shoot, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Only Jesus, our perfect King, always did what was just. Only he lived a perfectly sinless life. Only he could challenge his enemies, "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?" (John 8:46) and be confident that they couldn't. Only Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not. And what did he do with that perfect righteousness? He gave it away…
"6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness." When this perfect King would come, Jeremiah says, he would save "Judah" and give peace and safety to all "Israel." But in Romans 9 Paul points out what is meant by "Judah" and "Israel." He writes, "It is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring." (v.8) Judah and Israel mean more than a particular ethnic group, but all who believe God's promise of the Messiah, the perfect King, would be saved. It's available to everyone!
But how would he save them? Verse 6 gives us the answer. Jesus would be called "The Lord Our Righteousness." Jesus, who is perfect Righteousness, lived a perfect life for us and then suffered and died to pay for all of our sins. He took our sins on himself and gave us his perfection. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) God accepted Jesus' payment for sin and declared the whole world perfect for his sake. Now all who accept this truth by faith are assured of heaven.
Martin Luther once described it like a marriage… Imagine a poverty-stricken woman who was crippled and deformed. She had no hope of escaping her poverty through hard work because she was a cripple. She had no hopes of a husband to provide for her because of her deformities. But one day, a wealthy king met her, loved her, and took her to be his wife. And suddenly all that was his became hers as well! She went from having nothing to having everything! She went from beggar to queen!
Similarly, through faith we are married to Christ the King. Though we had no hope, he loved us and made us his bride. Now all that he has is ours. His perfect righteousness is our own. His noble status before God is ours. His glory, his heaven, his very self belongs to us. And his whole kingdom will be ours one day soon.
Because our perfect King has cared for us, brought us back from being scattered, and gave us his perfect righteousness, we have no more fear; no more terror. We have the assurance of salvation. We live in safety and in peace, because one day soon he will say to us, "I tell you the truth. Today you will be with me in paradise." Now, in thanks to him, let's live for our King! In Jesus' name, dear friends, amen.