Summary: You’ve got to think that the folks listening to Jesus were hoping for a replacement for the stringent Law of God that had become even more difficult to keep under the unbearable traditions of the Pharisees. I’m sure there were some great expectations. Aft
Measuring Up to God’s Standard
Lighthouse Assembly of God
Pastor Greg Tabor
You’ve got to think that the folks listening to Jesus were hoping for a replacement for the stringent Law of God that had become even more difficult to keep under the unbearable traditions of the Pharisees. I’m sure there were some great expectations. After all, the yoke under the Law must’ve seemed at times unbearable. But they were in for a disappointment if that was their thinking.
17“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. 18I tell you the truth, 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.
Christ states that His goal in coming is not to destroy God’s Law. He’s not replacing it or minimizing it or creating loopholes for folks who can’t seem to live up to it. What did He come to do?
o Christ fulfilled it. He met the standard.
1. He kept all the commands – no sin (see Hebrews 4:15).
2. He fulfilled all the types and shadows of the Law (see Hebrews 10:1). While principles of these laws are still important for the Christian - the practice of these laws is obsolete because they shadowed what has now come in full substance.
3. He has and will fulfill every prophecy uttered about Him.
4. Some say He fulfilled the Law by interpreting it correctly, in stark contrast to the Pharisees and all their man made traditions. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for “setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” (Mark 7:9 NIV).
o God’s Law is lasting. The standard will not change.
1. Not one ‘iota’ will disappear. What’s an ‘iota’? It is the smallest Greek letter. The smallest Hebrew letter is the ‘yod.’
2. Christ further made His point that not even the smallest part of a letter, literally ‘the little horn,’ would disappear.
3. It’ll be around till everything is accomplished. It ain’t going nowhere.
4. Christ didn’t come to throw it out, but rather to show the people where the bar really stood.
19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same 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.
“The Pharisees, it is probable, divided the precepts of the law into lesser and greater, teaching that they who violated the former were guilty of a trivial offence only. Christ teaches that in his kingdom they who make this distinction, or who taught that any laws of God might be violated with impunity, should be called least; while they should be held in high regard who observed all the laws of God without distinction.” – Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament
We can’t pick or choose what we like in God’s Word. And man doesn’t get into God’s kingdom by lowering the bar or trying to find loopholes in His Law. That is an exercise in futility. Dropping God’s standards is a sure recipe for God’s judgment.
20For 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.
Here we have the reality that God’s standards aren’t changing. And that is coupled with the reality that even the Pharisees aren’t measuring up. We are offered a place in heaven, but only if our righteousness surpasses the great spiritual leaders of Jesus’ day. You see the Pharisees exercised a lot of externals, but missed the ‘heart’ of the Law, as we’ll see in the weeks to come. If we are to obtain a righteousness greater than theirs, then it will have to be one that transforms the heart or else we can only hope to be whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones.
Paul, a former Pharisee himself, considered his works ‘rubbish’ “that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Phil 3:8-9 NIV
He also wrote:
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:20-22 NIV
So the righteousness God wants us to have will never be obtained by observing the Law, but rather through faith in Jesus Christ. He met God’s standards for righteousness, therefore we must trust in Him and receive His righteousness rather than trying to meet God’s standards in our own power.