Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.
But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
And then, to make matters even worse, Jesus makes this statement right smack dab in the middle of what He tells us our code of conduct should be.
You are to be perfect,
even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Here are only a few of the behaviors Jesus says we should be living up to…
* * *
You must be happy no matter how much you’re mocked, persecuted, and slandered. (5:11)
You are going to be judged even for your very thoughts! … angry or lustful. (5:22 & 28)
You must cut off all body parts that have any imperfections in them. (I mean really, cut them off). (5:30)
Other than for adultery, you must not divorce you spouse no matter what they do to you. (5:32)
You must never, ever break a promise … or even make one single one. (5:33-37)
No matter how evil someone is, you must never resist them. You must let them take total advantage of you however they want to. (5:38-42)
No matter how evil a person is, or what they do to you, you must only hold good feelings for them. Love them, and pray for them. (5:43-47)
* * *
Pretty heavy-handed isn’t it? More like a sledge-hammer I’d say. Rough. No matter how you look at it, these passages are rough… really… really… rough.
But lately, I’ve become aware of a slightly different way of looking at this section of Jesus’ teachings.
What if… when Jesus was telling us all this stuff, He was actually being a bit… sarcastic (?)
Would that be a weird way of looking at these scriptures? Could be, but I’m having more and more of a sneaky suspicion that it’s not such a weird way to look at these awful passages. Because everything He’s talking about here is so… drastic. It’s totally drastic! I mean, come on. We’re supposed to be perfect… like God?!! And what exactly was Jesus trying to say when He demanded that our righteousness be better than that of the Pharisees? The Pharisee’s kept the Law better than anyone at that time, but we are supposed to keep these Laws better than they were already doing – or we can’t even get into heaven!?
Furthermore, Jesus said that… the Law would stand. Even when heaven and earth ended… not even one detail of the Law would disappear.
What the heck is going on here anyway?
The thing here is… I would say that… Jesus really is trying to be… in a way… sarcastic.
Because the whole thing is so damned…. insane! When you stop and think about what he’s telling us, well it’s totally insane.
Unless… He’s trying to say this….
GO FOR IT!
YOU CAN’T DO IT!!
TRY WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT!!!
LETS SEE YOU TRY TO DO IT!
“So… Are you ready to give up yet? Are you ready to say Uncle?
Well, after reading all that’s required of me here, I am totally ready to say Uncle. I couldn’t do even one tenth of what the Law says I must do. A Law that’s going to out-live even heaven.
But here it is again… sarcasm (?)
Jesus actually said that Heaven is going to pass away?! Really? No, I don’t think so… really. So what else could He mean? Maybe He’s saying something like; “When hell freezes over”. Maybe He’s trying to tell us that the Law will not end… until its had it’s way with the universe (“until it’s purpose is fulfilled”).
All of this is just supposition I suppose. But when I look at the whole section. Well it sounds so insane I can hardly handle it.
So here’s the question of the day. Why would Jesus be so sarcastic about these oh, so solemn matters?
Because, what He might actually be trying to say is… this is how much …
WE NEED HIM!!!
And this is how much we need Him. He said it… right at the very beginning of this section… He said…
I did not come to abolish the law..
I came to accomplish it’s purpose!!!
So… all this to say… I need Jesus. Because only Jesus could do all of what this terrible Law-of-Perfection requires. It’s a desperate Law. And, because it’s so horrendous, I desperately need Him… to do battle with this heinous Law… for me! I’m not saying I shouldn’t attempt to do any of it. I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is… I’m going to do my best. And let Jesus… do the rest.
And, why do you think Jesus is insisting that all these requirements of the Law be met here on our puny little planet? What are all these marching orders for? To make a heaven here on earth? I don’t think so. What I think is that, it’s to prepare me for when it’s my turn to meet up… toe-to-toe with… The Law! The Law of Perfection!
And so what are we going to do when we have to meet up with it? I, for one, know what I’m going to do. When it’s my turn to have to face this terrible Law, I’m going to be cowering behind the robe of the Only One who can save me from it.
Jesus is the only one perfect enough to be able to stand, toe-to-toe, with the Perfect Law, and live through it’s murderous response. He is the only one who can pass the Terrible Law’s Test of Perfection, and make it through alive. He even died to fulfill what would most certainly happen to me when it’s time for my little, substandard self to have to face it’s wrath.
It’s Jesus that I stand behind, who makes me more righteous than the Pharisees.
It’s Jesus that I stand behind, who makes me perfect, even as God is perfect.
And it’s only by my believing He can save me from it, that I could live through it’s terrible test. When it’s my turn, I’m going to be ready and willing… to hide behind His robes so that the Law will be looking at Him… not at puny, imperfect me. And this is what all this ‘faith’ business is about for me. I believe (have faith) that Jesus can… and will… stand up to The Law for me. And I believe He will allow me to hide myself behind Him… behind His perfection… behind His death… in my place… and that this is the only way by which I will be allowed entrance into… God’s perfect heaven.
This is what I think.