Imagine for a moment a group of people that you think are real spiritual leaders, people of faith, those who strive hard to obey the Word and others look up to them too. Think…
No let me tell you…unless your righteousness surpasses them, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
You think you got a shot?
When Jesus spoke similar words, it was like shock waves. Locally the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law were the religious leaders of the time, a people revered, students of the Word and those who tried to live the faith. We always read them in a negative context but even to this day modern day Rabbinic Jews speak of the Pharisees with great awe. So when Jesus spoke these words, it was like shock waves.
“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20).
If these professional holy men couldn’t enter the kingdom of heaven, then who could? It was audacious.
Except that Jesus would teach another way. Righteousness through faith in him. A righteousness only he could offer. But this was expounded upon much later. Jesus dropped a bomb and then moved on to other teaching.
But perhaps 2000 years later we should take notice. Because the law still creeps in to rule our lives. How often do we feel God’s displeasure if we make bad choices or slip up? How often do we feel like God likes other people more? It’s all law. And Jesus isn’t about law, but about grace. Where is the foundation of our righteousness? Would our actions and thoughts prove that we believe the truth?