Surpassing the Righteousness of the Pharisees

This week our church is reading Matthew in our journey through the New Testament. One of my favorite passages to camp is the Sermon on the Mount. I am blown away by the high calling of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus makes the astounding claim that he hasn’t come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. This isn’t a new system. This is the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. So… the righteousness of the disciples of Jesus is not to be different from the Pharisees… it is to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees.

The call of the Kingdom is to abundance. That means going beyond the lip service of the religion. It means actually doing what the Kingdom is asking. You don’t just look like you’re fulfilling the obligations of the Kingdom… you are fulfilling the obligations of the Kingdom.

Jesus then illustrates it several times.

We can say, “Well, I haven’t murdered anyone.” That is the righteousness of the Pharisees. The abundance of the Kingdom is not about stopping at an action. It is about the change in the heart. Hatred has to be rooted out. If we are a “minimalist” in the Kingdom, we live with hatred, or we live with harsh feelings toward someone, and we think, “Well, I haven’t killed anyone.” We are just a Pharisee at that point in time.

Jesus moves it from the outward action to the condition of the heart. There are still things we don’t do. (We tend to MISS this point in today’s Christianity.) But it’s beyond that. It’s not substituting. It’s surpassing.

The condition of the heart is what is at issue. The root is key. Get the inside right, the outside follows.

We then find the power of the Kingdom. We then find the abundance beyond the rules of the Pharisees.

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