I‘m slowly memorizing the Sermon on the Mount as I meditate my way through it. I emphasize slowly — as in, it’s my goal to finish before 2011. I probably should figure it up, but I bet that’s less than five words a day… which makes it seem a lot easier than does the overwhelming feeling I have in my stomach every time I have to turn a page in my Bible. Anyway, there’s this one verse that keeps calling me back over and over again. I can’t get it off my mind — and I can’t really figure it out either. I’d like to ask you guys for some of your ideas as to what it means. I’m placing it inside its immediate context below, but the verse I really want to get at the meaning of is Matthew 5:20. I’ve bolded it below:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I 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. Anyone 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. 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.“
At that point, Jesus goes on to teach all the “You have heard it said…” lessons, starting with murder, anger, and calling your brother a fool.
So, any ideas? What does it mean for my righteousness to surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law? And are they the lower limit for entering into heaven… or the upper limit for not? Feel free to comment, and then to check back for discussion. Honestly, we don’t normally do that on my blog, but I’m hoping we can for this text.