Professional athletes set enormously high goals for themselves, but above all, they want to be remembered. They want to change the game and become a Great- a Hall of Fame kind of Great. And when a player achieves this, more often than not, their jersey is “retired”. The owners and/or managers of that team then remove that jersey (and anything associated with the number on that jersey) and frame it or send it to a museum dedicated to athletics. Often times the jersey will be replicated to be a banner that will hang for decades to come in that athletes home gym. Through this, an athlete is set apart from the rest. This athlete is raised up and well known for the hard work it took them to get there.
What if I told you your jersey has been retired? Now hear me out, I promise I have a point here.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Stick with me now.
Jesus came and changed the game, He changed the way the world ran. He had a phenomenal “career” in which He redefined mankind. Then He died on the cross for our filthy sins and rose again to offer us his very own jersey. This jersey wasn’t a cotton-polyester blend or even Dri-Fit material. It was, and is, 100% righteousness.
When God made a covenant with man He held His end of the deal. Like Jonathan and David, and all over Biblical-time people, during the making of the covenant the two parties exchanged robes to show that they became one. Through this they became united forever. So when God made this covenant with man we gave Him our robe of “sin nature” (that was later taken upon Jesus and never returned to us) and in return we received a robe of “righteousness.”
Like the athlete who works tirelessly, sacrificing their body for their sport; Jesus worked His ministry even after the cross. His jersey was set apart and elite. No man could ever bare that number again. But He chose to give of the benefits of His career to us: His covenant partners. Since we wear the robe of righteousness, since we ARE the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus we become raised up from the world around us. Through the Messiah’s sacrifice we get to live life warmed by His robe of righteousness while being set apart from a cold and dying world.
Now of course I am not actually putting Jesus and a pro athlete on the same level but the illustration is evident. Even though we didn’t deserve it, even though we didn’t have to die for our sins we take part in the benefits of Jesus’ righteousness–His right-standing with the Father.
We no longer have to walk around like average players or people in this world because the name on the back of that retired jersey is the same name you bear- RIGHTEOUS. You have already been set apart, you have already become more than any mere man could become. God wanted you to be righteous so badly, He sent His only Son to do the job. Why would you remain in the semi-pro league of life when your jersey is already hanging as a banner in the Staples Center?
Righteousness is who we are through Jesus. Not to become puffed up or cocky but to be made different, to be made a Great in this lost world through Him.