Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Christ, The Righteous Branch”

Jeremiah 23:1-6, Luke 1:68-79, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43

                                                           November 21, 2010                              

by James Greene

 

           Have you ever done any planting, like trees, shrubs, or grape vines?  It is funny how things grow better without us helping.  When we lived (North of Dallas) we planted a pecan tree.  Then we cut off the top 5 inches and tried to graft two branches on to the trunk to make a hybrid pecan tree.  The grafts didn’t take.  It was then I realized, just because I was an Aggie, didn’t mean I knew anything about agriculture.

We just let the tree grow.  The next spring the tree was up about 4 feet.  Years later, as it grew, I cut all of the lower branches, so it didn’t interfere with the daughter’s swing set.

           The higher branches that did grow were strong, and the tree grew, into a really tall native tree that shaded the whole back yard. 

           The title of today’s sermon is “Christ, The Righteous Branch”

 

I  The Righteous Branch  of David– Jeremiah

 

In Jeremiah, the term shepherd is used, the Old Testament, to identify the leaders of God’s people.  In II Samuel 7:7 we see David anointed to shepherd God’s people.  Jeremiah’s warning is directed to the Kings, the Priests, and the Prophets of Israel who are destroying and scattering the people.  The moral responsibility of the King comes from Deuteronomy 17:14-20.  The King was to have a copy of the Covenant Law, and was to live and rule by the righteous precepts.  The Law was the outline for the righteous integrity of the ruler and leaders.

 

Ironically the text also states, that it is God who is driving the people to other countries.  It is also God who will bring them back and raise up to David a righteous branch.  It says, there will be none missing, when they are brought back.  God will raise up a shepherd who will reign wisely over them, and who will take care of the people in His righteousness.  

  

How does this apply to us today?  It is the outline and foundation for the Spiritual and moral character of the leadership of God’s people, and their alignment of their devotion to Christ.  As the church, we are not to lower the importance, of the elements of, moral character for the shepherds, for an emphasis that seeks to greater identify with the standards of the world.  Church leaders are called to follow Christ’s example.     

The second part of the reading, concerns Jeremiah’s prophesy of God’s resolve to restore His people.  It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David’s line, and lay the foundations for the office that is to be filled by Christ.

 

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The word branch is used in the Old Testament symbolically, to identify the present or future king of Israel. In the Old Testament, there were a variety of words used for branch in the Old Testament.  The word used in Jeremiah is “luxuriant shoot”.  It is a description of a royal descendant of David’s line.  This righteous branch is the Messianic title for the rightful heir to the throne.  

 

II  The Lord’s Righteous Redemption and Plan– Luke - Jeremiah

 

In the responsive reading from Luke, we see Zachariah’s poetry that is both a Song and Prophesy.  This is the Praise to God coming to redeem his people, and raise up a “horn of salvation”.  The phrase, in the Old Testament, symbolizes and represents the royal saving power, or the saving power of the king.

 

The first half of this Song (like Jeremiah) is about Jesus’ fulfilling of the testimony of the prophets in God’s promise to Israel.  Christ is the redeemer Messiah who rescues Israel from the hand of their enemies, and does it in his holiness, and in his righteousness for the salvation of God’s people.  The prophesy, outlines Christ’s coming as the righteous branch, as the shoot from the house of David, to fulfill his Fathers promise to the people.   Just as we see this proclaimed in our hymn today, when we declare the power of Jesus’ name and how He “saves us by His grace” as our kinsman redeemer.

 

The second half, is a praise to God by Zachariah for the birth of his son John The Baptist, and an outline of John’s ministry to announce the coming of God’s light like the rising sun, to shine and to guide the people, in preparing The Way before the coming of the Messiah. 

 

III The Lord’s Plan - The Righteousness of Christ Colossians

 

           In our Epistle letter, we see the heart of the Nicene Creed from 325 AD.  The Nicene Creed was written in the town of Nicaea.  The name comes from the Greek word ‘Nika’ which translates victory.  We know the same word today that has become a name for a brand of tennis shoes: Nike.

 

           The reading is an outline of the characteristics of God, revealed in His Son.  It is a description of bringing in the Kingdom through His Son who is the righteous branch of David’s line.  

 

It is God’s purpose for his, Son through which, we are ‘redeemed’ and have ‘forgiveness of sins’.  It is also in this description the establishment of the son-hood of Jesus through the revelation of the Father in the text.  It reveals Christ as the King of the universe.  It is the bringing in the Kingdom of light and the reconciliation not only of mankind, but also the creation to the Father.

   

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IV Christ The Righteous Branch- Luke

 

           In Luke we see Jesus in the midst of crucifixion, giving testimony to his righteousness in his forgiving the soldiers.  We also see the fulfillment of the description of his crucifixion in Psalm 22:V-18  “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

           We see Jesus paying the price with his blood and death (in his righteousness) for the redemption of God’s people, when he goes to the cross.  In all of the darkness of his death, he still brings God’s light to God’s people and the creation.  This is his fulfillment, of re-establishing, of the righteous branch of David’s line.  Christ is that “luxuriant shoot”.

 

Conclusion

 

     As in Jeremiah, we see the prophesy that fore tells of God re-establishing  of the righteous branch of David, through the fulfilling of his promise to David.  We see and  hear the prophesy of Zachariah and John’s preparing the way for The Christ, who is that Righteous Branch of David, and how he is also the Righteous Branch of the Father in his identity, as the Son of God in Colossians.

Jesus, comes before, in the midst of, and at the end of history, as we know it.

He is the Christ,  - the Righteous Branch of David,  - and the Son of the Living God who fulfills his call,  - to bring light to the world,  - as the redeemer of the world,

- in the establishing of His Kingdom …

 

 

                      In the Name of    the Father,   the Son,   and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

 

 

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