A New Righteousness

Scott Hoezee

Read: Matthew 1:18-21

And her husband Joseph, being a just man . . . (v. 19)

All along it had been about righteousness, about being right with God. Adam and Eve had righteousness but threw it away. So God had to find a way to bring righteousness back. He started with Abraham who, despite huge reasons to believe otherwise, accepted God’s promise that he and his wife would have a baby in their old age. Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness.

God’s laws to Israel were meant to foster righteous living, too. Righteousness was supposed to be about being loving toward all people, but over time, rules came to mean more than people. “Righteousness” became a way to keep certain people out of Israel’s private religious club. So God’s own Son would have to come to reveal the deepest truth about righteousness. But first he’d have to reverse many old ideas.

It started with Joseph, a “just” or “righteous” man. And so when his fiancé turned up pregnant, Joseph knew the righteous thing to do was to get rid of her. Joseph could not stay righteous and get mixed up with Mary’s situation. But God came and revealed a new righteousness. The righteous thing was to stay with Mary after all. This is the first, but not the last, time in Matthew when Jesus’ presence will make people redefine righteous living. Joseph trusted that God knew what he was doing. And that’s when he found true righteousness.

—Scott Hoezee

Prayer: Lord, by grace we have gained Jesus’ righteousness as our own. Help us live in ways that display this to others. Amen.