For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)
It’s a Matter Of The Heart.
Following Jesus is not easy. The help He offers makes it achievable. Submitting to His leading makes it possible. In teaching the way to be, Jesus is not offering an easier standard than the one that’s offered by the religious rulers of the day. For all that is said about grace, today, the grace is not a relaxing of standards.
What Jesus outlines in terms of standard of what it is to do and be right is all about matters of the heart. What the teacher outlines is the culmination of the Law and the Prophets. What He shows is that practising and teaching what God instructs is not a matter of the letter alone, it’s a matter of the heart.
The incentive that Jesus offers before He speaks of an exceeding righteousness is what should sharpen the focus of the disciples then and now. Where so many look to be great in other areas of life – Jesus’ offer to be great in the rule of God – the rule we have been waiting for – is a route of making the matter of the heart flow out in practice and teaching. The teaching referred to here is not an academic approach, just as what is being taught is not something to learn by sitting, writing or memorising. The teaching is life to life just as Jesus was the epitome of what He taught.
He was able to do live by the standard exceeding because for Him, as He insists for His disciples, being and doing everything pleasing to the Father has to be a matter of the heart.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden