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. Matthew 5:20
Here is Jesus’ first smackdown of the elites of His time. The Pharisees and teachers of the law during Jesus’ time were THE crème de la crème of the Jewish world. They held themselves as the ultimate authority on all matters concerning Yahweh. They were educated, experienced, wealthy, authoritative, and proud. Oh yes, they were proud, so proud that they considered themselves above the civil authorities (Rome), the Gentiles who didn’t know God, and even that rabble who had to scrape together a few coins every year to dutifully support them and the Temple they boasted of serving.
In our time, the Pharisees might be academia, or the media, or maybe the permanent government that makes rules to order our lives. Or are they you and me? After all, Jesus wasn’t just speaking to those Pharisees and teachers of the law. He was talking to a crowd in front of Him. He was talking to us.
It pleases me to write this blog; I’ve come to regard it as a big part of my life’s mission. I’m proud of it, and I’m deeply honored that so many people read these words. And I mean it when I say may I never write another word if it becomes about me, if it stops glorifying God by discussing what His word means in our lives. If I start becoming a Pharisee or a know-it-all, then may I never write again. If what we do isn’t submitted to Jesus to honor Him, then what we do is a sin-filled waste of time.
Jesus opens the gates of heaven so that those whom He makes righteous may enter. This isn’t some exclusive clique or club: it’s open to everyone. The only requirement for membership is to be born again by His Spirit; to submit to Him fully. We signify rebirth by partaking His sacraments: baptism, communion, etc. Those are signs for us and others that He is with us, that we are His. Yet the elites among us, in every country, scorn this. They place human knowledge, human independence, human achievement, human WORSHIP above Christ. In this way, they are today’s Pharisees, having exchanged the true God for the gods of their stomachs.
Jesus spoke truth in all He said and did, and, quite honestly, it makes me sad that He had to smack down the most knowledgeable leaders of His time. They should have known better. All the signs were there, but they had blinded themselves to understanding them. Yet we’re no different. We’ve exchanged the knowledge of Christ for the foolishness of the world with things like politics, transsexual madness, war, and status. There is a better way.
For more reading: Isaiah 26:2, John 3:5, Matthew 5:21
Christ, only You are the better way. I reject this world and accept only You.