Back in the Sermon on the Mount for our Gospel reading today. Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Now, we don’t have a very high view of the Pharisees and the scribes. Jesus had some issues with them, too. I know that I often think of the Pharisees as self-righteous rather than righteous. So hearing these words of Jesus may make us think that surpassing the righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Got that covered, Lord! Those Pharisees and scribes got nothing on me!
And there is our first mistake. But it certainly won’t end there. Read the rest of today’s Gospel passage. Jesus doesn’t make this easy. In fact, He makes it impossible! He sets the bar for our behavior so high that we can’t possibly achieve that level of righteousness. At least, not on our own. We must go humbly before God and acknowledge that we can’t do this. Hmm…perhaps that was part of Jesus’ plan from the start.
Father, we need help with our righteousness. You know that we can achieve zero without your grace. So fill us with your grace today as we humbly come before you. Amen.