THE WORDS OF JESUS
Creative, Causative, Prophetic, Instructional – Pt 10
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – The Words of Jesus from Matthew 5:20
These words of Jesus are spoken in the context to say ‘I am putting an end to this matter’. It is another way of saying, “I am putting this matter to rest and this is the end of it.” So, pay close attention and take heed: ”Unless your righteousness far exceeds – super abounds – that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”!
Righteousness, by definition, is ‘God’s judicial approval’. It is what the Lord deems is right after His examination, that is, what is approved in His eyes.
Previously, Jesus said If you decide not to follow His commandments / teachings as presented, or if you choose a different method and teach others likewise, you “will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”, at the very best.
Many Christians find other ways, more convenient ways, or methods that make one feel more comfortable. Then, these same people wonder why they cannot ‘do the Works that Jesus does, and certainly cannot do the greater works’ He commanded and promised.
Failure to obey or to follow these commandments / teachings does not mean you are no longer saved, far from it. But when Jesus says you “will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” , He is telling you that you will be ‘weak’ and will be able to do ‘very little’.
By contrast, ”whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”. By this, Jesus is saying you will be able to do ‘very much’ in the kingdom of heaven.
Now, however, Jesus is warning, in the strongest terms, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven!
So, just what is this ‘righteousness’ that puts the ‘professing Christian’ at such great risk?
A simple way of saying this is, “don’t be like the scribes and the Pharisees. Matthew 23 tells us, “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.”
A better way to understand what Jesus is saying, please take a close look at the context of this verse and the words that Jesus spoke before and after these words, for a complete understanding.
Jesus is demonstrating and teaching about His salvation and His method of sanctification to prepare you (to test you, try you and to prove you; to purge you, cleanse you, refine and restore you), making you into His disciple, His son or daughter and a joint heir with Jesus, preparing you for entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus next teaches and demonstrates to His disciples what Godly Righteousness is all about as He teaches on:
Anger, (Matthew 5:21-26).
Lust, (Matthew 5:27-30).
Divorce, (Matthew 5:31-32).
Oaths, (Matthew 5:33-37).
Retaliation, (Matthew 5:38-42).
Loving your enemies, (Matthew 5:43-48).
Jesus’ teaching on this matter continues through Matthew Chapter 11.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you previously thought the process of becoming a ‘fully devoted follower of Jesus’, that is to say, becoming a Christian and a disciple of Jesus was going to be as easy as reciting or repeating a little prayer and ‘PRESTO’, you are saved, sanctified and ready for heaven, well, I pray you think again!
Philippians 2:12, says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence, but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. This should give new and additional meaning to what it means to become a Christian.
Let me close this Part 9 by saying, ‘do not despair’ at what I have written from the Word of God. These words are meant to prepare you, so you will not turn back or faint because of what comes upon you as Jesus readies you for The Kingdom of Heaven!
Remember, this is not a thing you can do on your own. There is nothing you can do that will ‘earn your salvation’. We are saved by grace through our faith in Jesus, alone; none of us are righteous on our own – no, not even one of us.
Our righteousness is a gift from God and is found in Jesus. We do not have a righteousness of our own (that comes from the law),but our righteousness is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Again, we are filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
Your Brother and Friend,
(Here is a Disciples Guide containing all these teachings of Jesus from Matthew chapter 4 through Matthew chapter 11.)
NEXT: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 11 – Matthew 5:21, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ verse 22. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
PREVIOUS: THE WORDS OF JESUS – What Are You To Do With Them? Part 9 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – The Words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 5:17-19