“‘我告诉你们，你们的义，若不胜于文士和法利赛人的义，断不能进天国。’” – 太 5:20
“Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:20
College admissions are competitive. So our daughter’s high-school guidance counselor recommended ways to sweeten her applications. I told the counselor not to worry. Our daughter would be going to our church-sponsored college. To get accepted, all she had to do was apply.
The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were determined to keep the Law of Moses faithfully. They figured their righteousness would help bring the kingdom of God and would ensure their place in it. What a surprise they had when Jesus said that sex workers and turncoat tax collectors were going into the kingdom ahead of them!
What!? Was the kingdom of God just free for the taking, with no special application requirements? To the Pharisees, that couldn’t be. They had staked their lives on the Law of Moses. They were not about to turn to a different way.
But Jesus is the righteous one. He brings the kingdom. And those traitorous tax collectors and sex workers were trusting in him. They had repented and now believed in Jesus, the way to the kingdom of God.
They certainly had no righteousness of their own. But that was okay. They had Jesus. So all they had to do was come to the kingdom, trusting in him.
That’s all any of us has to do. Come. Just come to Jesus and his kingdom.
Jesus, I come to you and to your kingdom. Show me the way of your kingdom every day. And help me to follow it. Amen.