“Unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law, there is no way you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus’ words must have stunned His listeners. In His teaching in Matthew 5 and Luke 6, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raised the bar. In fact, He set what must have seemed like an impossible standard to live up to.
Was anyone more righteous than the law abiding, rule loving Pharisees? Yet it seems that Jesus is saying even their attempts toward righteousness fall short of His standard. If the Pharisees fall short, is there hope for anyone?
And then Jesus walks through command after command, “You have heard that it was said…” And with each command, He raises the bar even higher, “But I tell you…”
Righteousness earned by keeping the Law is a mirage, a pipe dream! Like a Hollywood set, the facade looks impressive, but there’s nothing behind it.
Jesus pulled in Scripture from Exodus 20 & 21, Leviticus 19, Numbers 30, Deuteronomy 5, 15 & 19 and Proverbs 25 to bolster His argument. He knew the Law. That much was clear.
So where was the hope? It’s not found in the Law. It’s found in Jesus Himself!
“Do not think I am here to abolish the Law or the words of the prophets. I came to fulfill their purpose.”
Jesus obeyed the Law perfectly. He’s the only one who met the impossible standard set by the Law. He is righteous. Jesus didn’t earn righteousness by obeying the law… He is righteous in His very nature, and He did not forfeit or taint that righteousness by disobeying the Law.
So where is the hope? Our righteousness is found in Jesus. Through Him, we gain a right standing before the Father. The righteousness of Christ has been “imputed” (deposited) to us.
Jesus paid our sin debt, and then He deposited His righteousness to our account. We’re rich beyond compare!
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