Posted by: Brad Beaman | November 29, 2007

Sermon on the Mount: True Righteousness Matthew 5:17-20

Can you imagine the faces of all the people sitting on the Mount of Beatitudes listening to Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus told them their righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees to go to heaven?

In Jesus day there were many people deeply concerned about righteousness. They were the Scribes and the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the most zealous in a human attempt at righteousness. No one even compared to them when it came to obeying the law and emphasizing righteousness.

All those listening to Jesus must have had the same look on their face as Nicodemus had when Jesus told him no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he is born again. The people must have been in shock to hear this. Do you mean our righteousness is to exceed the Scribes and the Pharisees? That is humanly impossible!

What is impossible with men is possible with God. All things are possible with God. Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27

Jesus calls us to go beyond the law to a true relationship with God, where we enjoy and experience His love. The emphasis of the Pharisees righteousness is outward and the true righteousness Jesus speaks of is inward.

Jesus Stance on the Scripture Vs 17-18

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. 18I 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.

It was important that Jesus established what he believed about the written Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. The Pharisees claimed to hold closely and adamantly to the law. When Jesus went head to head with the Pharisees they might charge him of not having a very high regard for Holy Scriptures. That is totally false. In fact it was Jesus who had a high view of the scriptures and the Pharisees who abolished the law.

The Pharisees would come up with secret hidden meanings in Scripture and use it to support their own traditions. They developed a system of 612 rules and regulations. Jesus violated their rules and their regulations. But that is something very different than violating Scripture.

In Matthew 15:2 they confront Jesus about breaking one of their own man made rules:
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Notice how Jesus replied:
  Vs 3 “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

Jesus again demonstrated his high view of Scriptures in an account recorded in Matthew 22:23-33. This time it was Sadducees, a group who does not believe in the resurrection. They tried to trap Jesus asking what if a woman was widowed seven times, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? Jesus replied don’t you know the Scripture or the power of God? Jesus pointed out that that God said, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

He said, I am not, I was. He is the God of the living. Jesus believed the Scripture. He said he did not come to destroy the law. Jesus said, I came to fulfill the law. Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Jesus upheld the law and the Prophets. That was representative for the entire Old Testament as we know it on our Bible. Jesus did not devalue the Scripture in the least. He held the highest view of Scripture.

Today we do not sacrifice animals as in the Old Testament because these sacrifices pointed toward the coming messiah. He came. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Jesus fulfilled the Scripture. The scriptures were pointing to the day that Jesus would come.

Keeping God’s Law

Followers of Jesus are under obligation to keep the teachings of the Old Testament. There are ceremonial and ritual laws that Jesus fulfilled, but there are timeless moral laws that all believers of Jesus must follow.

What happens when a follower of Jesus breaks these laws? Do you lose your salvation? Do you forfeit your opportunity to go to heaven? No, but you lose your position in God’s kingdom. Instead of being called great he will be called least.

19Anyone 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.

It is of great importance to the follower of Jesus to obey God’s Word.

Exceeding Righteousness

Jesus made the shocking statement:

20For 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.

These Scribes and Pharisees were the meticulous keepers of the law. External good works will never be enough. A common evangelism question is, Do you know for certain that you will go to heaven when you die? Many people answer, well I have been a good person. But our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees to enter heaven.

The Old Testament spoke of a coming New Covenant. It is in the shed blood of Jesus Christ that our sins are forgiven. When we put our faith in Christ we take on the righteousness in Christ. Then by the power of the Holy Spirit we continue in that righteousness.

You will never make it to heaven by self effort. You need Jesus Christ. You must take on the righteousness of Jesus Christ by putting your faith in Him. You must trust Jesus Christ as your Savior.

When you trust Jesus Christ and his death on the cross to cover your sins then you have taken on the righteousness of Jesus and then your righteousness does exceed that of the Pharisees. It is a righteousness that comes to you no matter how sinful you have been. Jesus death on the Cross is your righteousness when you put your faith in Him.

Find our more: Assurance of Salvation



  1. Le-havdil ((to differentiate); to distinguish between what’s written above and below):

    Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth’s authentic teachings reads:
    [Torah, Oral Law & Hebrew Matityahu: Ribi Yehoshua Commanded Non-Selective Observance
    The Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM) 5:17-20 (later Hellenized to “the gospel of Matthew” (which is anti-Torah))]
    [Glossaries found in the website below.]:

    “I didn’t come to subtract from the Torâh (“books of Moses”) of Moshëh or the Neviim (“prophets”), nor to add onto the Torah of Moshëh did I come. Because, rather, I came to [bring about the] complete [i.e., non-selective] observance of them in truth.
    Should the heavens and ha-Aretz exchange places, still, not even one י or one of the Halâkhâh of the Torah of Moshehshall so much as exchange places; toward the time when it becomes that they are all being performed — i.e., non- selectively — in full.
    For whoever deletes one [point of] the Halâkhâh of these mitzwot (directives or military-style orders) from Torah, or shall teach others such, [by those in] the Realm of the heavens he shall be called ‘deleted.’ And whoever ratifies and teaches them shall be called ‘ Ribi’ in the Realm of the heavens.

    For I tell you that unless your tzәdâqâh is over and above that of the [Hellenist-Roman Pseudo- Tzedoqim] Codifiers of halakhah, and of the Rabbinic- Perushim sect of Judaism, no way will you enter into the Realm of the heavens.” (see NHM)

    Quote from ; “History Museum”

    The reconstruction is made using a scientific and logic methodology. One of the premises is that the historical Ribi Yehoshua was a Torah-observant Pharisee (why that premise is true is found in the above website, in which you also will find more information about why a reconstruction is needed).

    The historical Ribi Yehoshua and his followers Netzarim observed Torah non-selectively. The above website proofs that the person who want to follow the historical Ribi Yehoshua must do likewise and that the only way to follow Ribi Yehoshua is through the Netzarim (above website).

    To observe the directives in Torah, which is the way that all of the followers of Ribi Yehoshua walks, is highly meaningful and I recommend it to you all!

    Anders Branderud

  2. you say, “What happens when a follower of Jesus breaks these laws? Do you lose your salvation? Do you forfeit your opportunity to go to heaven? No, but you lose your position in God’s kingdom. Instead of being called great he will be called least.”
    Then we all are called the least, because no one can keep the law. That is the reason why Jesus died, because we can’t keep it and all fall short of the glory of God. By grace we are saved and we are not called the least. This scriptures refers to the willful misleading and false teaching and not about not obeying the law.

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