I finished Luther's Bondage of the Will a bit ago, but revisited this passage, in light of the ongoing Federal Vision controversy, of which, more later:
"There is a deeper reason why the doctrine of merit, in all its shapes and forms, must be rejected. The idea of a meritorious act is an idea of an independent act which is in no way necessitated by God for man or performed by God in man, but is carried out by man acting in some sense apart from God. And there is no such action as this in God's universe.... the fact that it is God who works all man's works in him means that human action can never be independent of God in the sense required for it to acquire merit..." (page 51)
Now, Luther is rejecting here the idea of sinful man meriting favor with God, which most Protestants reject along with him (though too many would see faith in Christ as wholly our own doing, meriting salvation from God).
But I am wondering if Luther's thought can also be applied to Jesus Christ's obedience. It seems to me, to speak of Jesus meriting the Father's favor introduces a separation between the two that violates the Trinitarian reality of deep unity and love. I'm not saying Jesus didn't offer a perfect, innocent, blameless life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins. God imputes the active obedience (righteousness) of Christ to our account. But is it helpful to define that as something Christ merited from the Father, like their relationship was all business and contract? I don't think so, especially when we affirm that it takes faith to be truly obedient, and faith and merit are nigh unto mutually exclusive. If we emphasize a meritorious righteous obedience given us, we start to lose a faithful obedience given us, which we truly need before God.