“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.” (Jeremiah 33:14-15)
Jeremiah’s prophecy offers an appropriate message to begin the Advent Season as his words are fulfilled in the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God who came to earth born of a woman, as a human being, from the royal lineage of King David. In Him the Lord promised that He would restore and vindicate His chosen people. Many of the Jews of Jeremiah’s day may have thought of this Messiah as a warrior King who would destroy their enemies the Babylonians and all the nations who had assailed them in the past. The Jews of Jesus’ day thought the same in reference to Herod as well as his Roman overlords. They wanted justice. Justice from the ancient earthly kingdoms that overran Judah and Israel was often in the form of cruel oppression. These days our systems of justice are somewhat better though woefully flawed, often punishing the weak, exonerating the elite, and letting the guilty go free to create chaos on our streets. In addition, as we have seen from several high profile court cases, when people demand justice they often mean they want to exact retribution through means of crippling punishment.
Jeremiah looked for justice from God alone to set things right. So should we. The justice all men long for has come in Jesus. He came to execute justice, not people. He did this by being executed on a cross for the sins of all mankind. His way of executing justice was to exact it from Himself. As our eternal High Priest, Jesus offered Himself on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He made peace with God by taking judgment on Himself. Now He offers that peace to all men through grace and mercy, not retribution and judgment. No one deserves His mercy. We all deserve punishment, but through Christ Jesus we are made righteous. Truly this good news gives us a reason to rejoice: we are forgiven; we have been reconciled to God. It is good news we must proclaim in Jesus’ Name to all mankind. As believers we are called to be His instruments of mercy and forgiveness in a violent and sin-cursed world so sinners will come to faith and not fall under God’s justice without the mediator He has given: Jesus.