From whence comes our righteousness? From the head of the church.
All of the above is controversial.
"And this is the name by which he will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'"
- Jeremiah 23:6b
Verse 6 is cited in the introduction to Formula of Concord, Epitome Article 3: Righteousness (Ep 3.1). The German reformers, after Luther's death, agreed that Jesus and Jesus "alone is our righteousness" (Ep 3.1), but given Jesus' two natures (divine and human), these German theologians were divided on which of the two natures of Jesus is our righteousness. A fun summary in the Epitome, especially the Negative Theses (Ep 3.12-23), shows that both sides convinced the other. They agreed that "the whole Christ, according to both natures, is our righteousness" (Ep 3.3).
Verse 11 is cited in a block with verses 9 and 10, which has come up before. Verses 9-11 are cited with several others in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 2: Free Will (SD 2.15) showing examples of Paul's prayers--along with other, non-Pauline examples--to show examples of prayers offered for what cannot be attained on our own.
"He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything."
- Colossians 1:18
Verse 18 is cited in a footnote to Smalcald Articles, Part 2, Article 4 (SA 2.4.1, n. 52) as a direct reminder that Jesus is the head of the Church, not the pope. This is not a disestablishment claim, but a plea to the pope to remember his place as pastor to the church, called to relate to other Christians as siblings and equal coworkers.
A fun mix of Christmas, Lent, and the eschaton this week, especially if you want to get into particulars of righteousness and Jesus' claim to be king. This is a Sunday to be keenly aware of the counter-cultural claim of Christianity: baptism shows that we are only accidentally residents within the particular country in which we find ourselves because our true and essential citizenship is in Jesus' kingdom. This can be remarkably freeing as it encourages us Christians to choose to participate in the governance of our current country, not out of obligation, but out of hope for the fulfillment of God's promises--especially in the face of political concerns that would try to make us give up the faith of Jesus.
Oh, and pay attention to your stance on the Luke 23:43 comma debate...
- What does it mean for us that our King chose to not save himself?
- How do we acknowledge the promise of the Jeremiah reading with our experiences of being scattered and destroyed by evil shepherds?