“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 tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17-20 (NIV)
There is so much in this verse.
- Jesus claiming to fulfill the law not remove the law.
- Jesus says those who practice and teach these laws to others are great in the kingdom of heaven.
- Then you have the hopeless statement that unless our righteousness is greater than the religious leaders and teachers of the law, we will not enter heaven.
By-the-way, this is what Jesus wanted us to feel—hopeless. If I have to do better than those who make a lifestyle from living according to the law, there’s no chance for me!
He wanted us to realize we can’t be good enough for His kingdom. That’s why He was sent to fulfill the requirements of the law, which expose our inadequacies.
Since Jesus fulfills the law, following Jesus is like following the law. Except following Jesus isn’t following a law that exposes our sin but our freedom in Him.
My next steps are
- Be thankful for Jesus giving me the righteousness that is more than the Pharisees.
- Not to rely on my works to please God.
- Practice and teach people to follow Jesus by loving Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and sharing Jesus.