17“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.19So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
20“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
That last line had to make Jesus’ listeners shudder. When it came to being good, the Pharisees were it. They were so careful about following the law, that when they harvested their gardens they would count the individual peas and give 1/10 to the temple. The Pharisees were crazy about following the rules. How could anyone be more righteous than them?
Only through Jesus. While the Pharisee may well have been the “goodest” of men, they were still filthy rags compared to God. We all are. Only when we admit our sinfulness and accept that we depend totally on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in our place, only then are we covered with the righteousness of Jesus. And Jesus’ righteousness is true and complete righteousness worthy of God because he is God.
So none of the law or scripture is abolished. It is all fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and our accepting or rejecting of Him. That is what the whole book is about, and it is what are whole life is about.
Lord, change me so I may fulfill your purpose for your glory forever and ever Amen. Beginner’s Online Bible Study *obbs*
The Pharisees were very good at following the law -down to the letter! They knew it backward and forward, but they did not understand how to temper it with God’s love. They did not understnad that the spirit of the law was every bit as important as the letter of the law. I find it easy to resport to thinking a little like a Pharisee, thinking that I am good because I follow the rules and shame on those around me who don’t! God has helped me learn (and keeps reminding me) that while I need to try and “follow the rules,” that I also need to see the world through God’s eyes of love. I am also fearful that I will teach others a wrong attitude by things I do or say, and I must be extremely vigilant about doing that! The more we know, the greater is our responsibility to do what is right. The line about “if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do so” makes me very aware that leading a good example is extremely important! This passage always stings just a little, and I find myself asking God for more help and to keep me from becoming like the Pharisees and being so good at following the rules that I miss the point!!!