Text Illustrations

One of Track and Field’s more interesting events is the high jump. The high jump and the pole vault are the only events where even the winner finishes in failure.

Right after the jumper clears one heighth, the bar is raised. The bar is raised until the jumper can no longer clear the heighth.

The world high jump record is 2.45 meters (that’s 8 feet ½ inch). That’s the greatest height anyone has ever cleared with their body. One person did it in 1993, and it hasn’t been done again since. It is the standard by which all great jumps are measured. If a jump doesn’t meet or exceed that height, it falls short of being the best that was ever done.

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were almost universally respected for their righteous attention to the laws of God. They were, in a sense, “world record holders at law keeping.” Their righteousness was the standard by which everyone else was judged.

But the righteousness of the Pharisees was still not good enough to save them. They might have been close to perfection, but close doesn’t count in horseshoes, the high jump, or getting to heaven.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

That is what we celebrate at communion-- that we are justified by our faith in a perfect man who died as our replacement. Our efforts at clearing the bar are feeble. We can never jump high enough or be perfect enough to enter heaven. Only our faith in Jesus makes it possible for us to finish as winners.

SOURCE: Matthew Rogers in "Raising the Righteousness Bar" on www.sermoncentral.com. Edited for Communion by SermonCentral Staff. Citation: Romans 3:23-26.