Thoughts on Righteousness, that Wander a Bit

This morning, I was at the Lord’s table at home. Without a liturgy, receiving the bread and the wine/grape juice is very beautiful for me. But, I struggle sometimes with doing what Jesus says to do at His table, remember Him. The NLT uses those simple words “remember me” for 1 Cor 11:25.

“In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.”

Now, I am not a theologian like those who united to do the work of the New Living Translation. Neither am I a theologian like Malcolm Smith (who may not like being called a theologian) who wrote The Power of the Blood Covenant: Uncover the Secret Strength of God’s Eternal Oath But Malcolm Smith’s explanation witnesses to my spirit better. He explains that the covenants were to bind two tribes or two families with an extraordinarily strong bond. He describes in detail the feast that celebrated the union. The oaths. And using David’s covenant with Jonathan, shows how David went against the wisdom and custom of the day (annihilating all of the deposed king’s family, so that they wouldn’t try to foment a revolt).

David searched out Mephibosheth to bless him, restore lands, and reserve a place for him at the King’s table. He loved Mephibosheth because he loved Jonathan.

The covenant pledge was for the representatives to love all that the other represented (the whole family or tribe) the way that they loved the other. Additionally, the whole family or tribe got involved in the oath to love the other represented family or tribe. So what Malcolm Smith describes is a covenant not between God and His people in the sense that it was used in the rest of the bible, because “His people” were represented by men, sinful men. The new covenant, is with The Father representing the trinity, and Jesus, fully man, though without sin, representing all of humanity. So The Father is pledging to love all whom Jesus represents, as He loves Jesus. And likewise, Jesus is giving His oath to The Father that those He represents will come to love The Father, through Holy Spirit indwelling us, just as He loves The Father.

The other thing that is italicized in some translation and not in others is the word “it”. In “as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” People seem to have gotten really focused on the liturgy, and the format, and often don’t even refer to the Me who is to be remembered, or the bread and the wine. Today, there is receiving “the elements”. It really irks me.

But, to be fair, it is because I have a hard time remembering Him myself when I am at His table. My mind naturally goes to all the ways that I benefit. That my sins are covered. My shame has been taken. His flogging is for my healing. My. My. My.

But, I want to remember Him. What was in His heart when He shared the feast, represented humanity (and me) in the new covenant that was to be sealed with His blood.

This morning, I thought of His desire to give me His righteousness. Wow.

It did lead me afterwards to really ponder what is righteousness, and though I was pretty sure it was a gift, I wasn’t 100% sure. Righteousness to me was “right standing”. That is what I always had heard. But what is “right standing”. The first thing that I thought of with that was Heb 4:16

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Fortunately, I got to see a reflection of this verse in action. At one point, I was in a small church of about 60 people (men, women, children). The pastor was a young man, with a son, between 2 and 3. He was about to pray, or maybe preach, and his son slipped away from his mom, and walked up to dad to ask him something. It was great. Dependent. Natural. Sincere. Bold, but humble.

That is right standing, and righteousness to me.

But how do you give that? It is so much more than have my seat, or take my place in line.

Well, in looking at scripture, it seems that everyone seemed to know what righteousness is. Blueletter Bible reports righteousness occurs 309 times in 296 verses in the NASB. In the new testament, it most often says that righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness turned into a word study too big for here, and also too big even for me for a day. Only Rom 5:17 speaks of the gift of righteousness. Righteousness is described as a fruit in Eph 5:9, Phl 1:11, Heb 12:11, and Jas 3:18. But we are also told to practice righteousness – 1 John 3:10, Rev 22:11. And be trained in it 2 Tim 3:16.

So, I think that I need to read in context those 296 verses that contain “righteousness”.

Still, at the Lord’s table. I remembered the Lord’s loving, and generous, and merciful heart, even if I may not have understood righteousness, beyond that Jesus had God’s righteousness. And now we can too, by believing in Him.