What does this opening phrase mean: Jesus, thy blood and righteousness? Notice the repetition of this theme through out the hymn: These things are my beauty, my glorious dress (stanza 1). Arrayed in these I shall lift up my head, even in the midst of “flaming worlds” (stanza 1). Through these two things I am fully absolved from sin, fear, guilt and shame (stanza 2). My plea to enter the eternal rest is that “Jesus hath lived, hath died for me.” (stanza 3). Now we are getting closer to the meaning of the opening phrase, but lets look further: The final stanza repeats the phrase, not just for the author, but for all, all who are banished, all who are dead. Here is what they must hear, and rejoice in: That their beauty, their glorious dress, is Jesus, thy blood and righteousness.
It is not enough that Jesus died for our sins (thy blood ); that only takes away our guilt and condemnation. We not only need our sins taken away, to be able to stand before the Judge of all the earth, we need a positive righteousness (Jesus, thy righteousness). That is why Jesus didn’t just drop from the sky go to the cross and then return to his Father. He had to live a sinless life here among us to provide us with that righteousness. That is what Paul means in
2 Corinthians 5:21: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. The blood and righteousness in this hymn represents the two-fold gift of God in Christ through faith to us; the gift of the removal of our sin guilt, and the putting on of an alien righteousness (Romans 1:16,17) that makes us acceptable to God, in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Look at the words now listed below, and sing along with the mp3 file posted to the right. To God be all the glory.