Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Startling Challenge

     In His sermon on the mount Jesus confronted the people with a startling challenge:  "Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven"  Matthew 5:20 NKJV.
     This was a serious statement to bear for those who heard Him.  As far as they could see the scribes and Pharisees were the perfect example of righteousness.  They were as righteous as humans get, the cream of God's crop.  Now Jesus was telling them that they needed to be more strict than the most righteous people they knew.
     Or was He?
     Either Jesus was saying that we need more of the same righteousness the scribes and Pharisees exhibited, or He was inviting us to receive a righteousness of an entirely different character and quality.  In Matthew 23 Jesus addressed the scribes and Pharisees with some straight words.  On this occasion He clearly pointed out the difference between their righteousness and that to which He was calling the people.  Carefully notice His words:
    "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law; justice and mercy and faith.  These you ought to have done, with out leaving the others undone.
     "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
     "Blind Pharisees, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
     "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.  Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness"  Matthew 23:23-27.
     According to Jesus we humans are composed of two basic part--the outside and the inside.  Obviously He was referring to  our behavioral appearance as the outside, and to our heart-motives as the inside.

     (We don't want to be like the Scribes and Pharisees, do we?  So pay close attention to the next day or two pages and see how we can avoid living like them.  Praying for you.  Grandma Joan

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