With the next statement in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus leaves no doubt as to what He meant in the previous three declarations. He meant without question for His disciples to obey God's law—and He was requiring them to obey according to a standard that went beyond anything they'd heard before. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and
Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20).
Who were the scribes and Pharisees? The scribes were the most renowned teachers of the law—the interpreters of the law, the learned men, the experts. The Pharisees, a related group, were commonly viewed as the most exemplary models of Judaism. They formed a sect of Judaism that established a code of morals and rituals more rigid than that spelled out in the law of Moses, basing much of their practices on years of traditions. The scribes and Pharisees were both highly strict and highly respected in Judaism (Acts 26:5).
While the scribes were the experts, the Pharisees professed the purest practice of righteousness. So when Jesus stated that one's righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, this was a startling declaration!
The Pharisees were looked up to as those who had attained the very pinnacle of personal righteousness, and the common people supposed that such heights of spirituality were far beyond their reach. But Jesus asserted that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees wasn V enough to entitle them to enter the Kingdom of which He spoke! What hope, then, did others have?
Was this article helpful?