Taking up at Matthew 5:17, we look for those best evidences for each of The 10 Essential Elements of The Real New Testament Message by means of The New Testament Literacy Tool. In 5:17 thru 20, we learn that there is the powerful connection between the three things of the Law, righteousness and the Kingdom. Righteousness is measured, or determined, by one’s adherence to the Law. Only by means of having sufficient Law #1, righteousness will one enter the #10, Kingdom. As #4, Savior and Messiah, Jesus came to fulfill all the Law and to establish for Himself, while a human on earth, perfect Law righteousness for Himself. There has to be at least 2 reasons for this. First, to establish His own credentials among men as being the Son of God, Messiah and Savior; but, also, we can assume, that His own righteousness might then, later, be credited to the accounts of all those who would come to #7, believe on Him as their very own Savior and Lord! That Jesus told His hearers that their righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees, who were considered the most holy among the people, had to have come to them as quite a shock. Every hearer must have been asking within themselves, ‘If a Pharisee is not righteous enough, then who is? And, how can I ever possibly be righteous enough?’ What about you? You must be righteous. Do you have enough righteousness to go to heaven?
See next how that Jesus then uses the Law to explain the true nature and depth of Law righteousness, and how that righteousness is not only about outward speech and actions, but is truly a matter of our innermost being, our thought-life, our ‘heart’. With 5:21+22, Jesus presses the 6th Commandment about murder and relates it to just being angry with someone. (Verses 23-26 are great #9, New Life counsel about the need to seek reconciliation with any with whom we are not in right relation.) Verses 27 thru 30 apply the 7th Commandment about adultery. It’s not only an outward action, but a secret thought of the heart that God knows! And, do not miss the matter of #3, severe judgment, as Jesus 3 times makes mention of a place called hell in verses 22, 29 and 30. Finally, verses 29 and 30 refer to bodily mutilation. What is that about? They are pictures of #6, repentance! See that?
We’ll conclude chapter 5 by pressing home Jesus’ last words there. From verse 48, Jesus told His hearers to ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’. What will anyone do with that? Here’s the call for perfect righteousness, and no one is! What could possibly be His point? I would say that He wants to bring His hearers to despair, that they might turn to God, seek repentance, and be filled with righteousness, as He stated in 5:6. Just as we found it in chapter 1, the issues are still our necessity for perfect #1, righteousness, our own personal record of #2, sin, and our incredibly deep need for #4, a Savior in the Person of the Lord, Jesus Christ, as well as a #8, a New Birth by the Spirit from above! It’s really what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell