yes and amen
Updated: Jun 3
17 “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.18 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.19 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.20 For i tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
in verse 20, Jesus boldly preaches that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, a persons’ righteousness must exceed the scribes and the Pharisees. though we often view the scribes and Pharisees in a negative light, we need to remind ourselves that they were once the most righteous people around. they were skilled at keeping the law, and we might even say they were once the most religious men around.
so what exactly does Jesus mean when our righteousness needs to exceed theirs in order to enter the kingdom of heaven? though it may seem impossible to “exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees”, Jesus was pointing out the fact that in our own humanly strength, there is no way we can ever measure up. even the scribes and the Pharisees only displayed an outward “righteousness”. they seemed like they were doing the right things externally, but their hearts weren’t truly following after God. here, Jesus reminds us that he desires the PURITY of our hearts and not just the purity of our actions. He is not only concerned at what we are doing, but our MOTIVES and heart behind it.
The good news is, we can’t achieve this righteousness alone, so Christ gave us HIS righteousness, so that we can receive it through him. when we have a heart transformed through Christ, we can hunger and thirst for righteousness (matt 5:6). we can now be zealous for good works as Jesus has come to be our righteousness and stir the growth of righteousness in us, because Christ lives in us!