The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by John Lee. I am studying to become a lawyer. When I'm not studying, I'll probably be found watching Disney+.

Matthew 5:13-20

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, 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. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly 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. 20 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.

Reflection

"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" (verse 20). In this verse, Jesus tells us to try to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees. The Pharisees and teachers of the law would have spent lots of time reading and memorising Scripture and trying to follow Mosaic Law. If we try to outdo the Pharisees by knowing the Bible better than they did, following the Law more to the letter than they did, and devoting more time to God than they did, then we may end up setting impossibly high standards for ourselves.

HOWEVER, this is not necessarily what Jesus is telling us to do. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that "for our sake he made him [i.e. Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God". And so, we already surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees: not through anything we've done but because Jesus has already died for our sin on the cross. Romans 3:22 says that "righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe". And so, while it may be helpful to use verse 20 as a challenge for us to devote more time to God, we should also be massively encouraged that we can enter the kingdom of heaven just as we are because of what Jesus has done on the cross and our faith in Him.

Are you trusting in your own righteousness or Jesus' righteousness? Ask God to remind and reassure you that you are dressed in His righteousness.

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