Surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees?
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.
Can you just imagine how terrifying those words had to be? Jesus is speaking to the lay person and telling them they won’t see the kingdom of heaven unless they are more righteous than their religious leaders. Think about all those religious leaders that you have. If you are Catholic you have priests, bishops, cardinals and popes. If you are Protestant, you have pastors, elders and governing boards. All of those people are highly esteemed for their dedication to the Lord. They went to seminary, they understand theology and they live a life dedicated to God. How then does God think a lay person can surpass that of the religious leader? By the blood of Jesus!
There is no one, not one person who is righteous enough to stand before God. All of us are fallen and sinners. Some of us have many sins, others not so much but they still are sinners. The point I am trying to make is that there is no way except by the blood of Jesus that any of us will get into heaven. That is very good news. Of course the ones who are listening to this message at that time might not be getting what Jesus is saying, and some who read this devotional don’t get it either. So let me explain it again for those to understand.
All of us are sinners and this list of sinners includes all of the religious leaders. All of us can only get into heaven one way, through Jesus Christ. None of us will get in on good behavior. If that were true then Christ died for nothing. God could have just let us keep the Law and fend for ourselves, but He loved us too much to do that. So He sent His Son to be a sacrifice for our sins and shed His blood to cover our sins. When we accept Jesus and the sacrifice of His blood, then and only then does our righteousness surpass the religious leaders. It is really that simple and God makes it simple because we really are that stupid. Instead of accepting Jesus as our sacrifice we will try to be good to get into heaven. We wear ourselves out trying to be good, and all the while we have a Savior right there waiting to save us. Let us pray.
Jesus Christ, You are the only way into heaven. There is no other way. I cannot work my way into heaven. I cannot be good enough to go to heaven. I cannot be religious enough to go to heaven. You and only You can get me into heaven. I pray, Jesus, for You to be my Savior, and this I pray in Your Name, Amen.