Bible with Cross ShadowThe deeper we go into the Sermon on the Mount, the more challenging it is becoming to focus on the simple “doings” that are required for our houses to stand. Or, it just may be that I am making it harder than it needs to be. Perhaps, as some have suggested, I think too much.

Perhaps I just need to write the article, and see where it leads us. Bear with me.

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19

“Do even the least of these commandments (the Law), and teach them.” Would you agree that is a simple and fair interpretation of this saying? It is simple, isn’t it?

Yet, it is not simple; at least, not for me – not the application of it. Why? Because I have been taught most of my life that the Law is totally optional; that it’s only purpose was to show us that we could not fulfill God’s requirement for righteousness in our own strength; that we needed the grace of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation.

We are saved by grace, through faith; and not by works of the Law. That is how I remember it. That is how I was taught. And that is what I still believe with all my heart. I am incapable of fulfilling the Law.

So, why did Jesus make this a point of His sermon? There must be something more here. It seems to me that, in this case, I did not think enough. I certainly did not search out the matter as I should. I allowed myself to believe that the Law was of consequence for the Israelites, only. Let me see if I can make sense of it; if only to clear up my own confusion.

For starters, Jesus is not talking here about being saved by the Law. He is talking about being least or great in the kingdom of heaven. Whatever “least” is, I don’t want to be it; particularly if “least” means lost.

I am having a revelation, about myself, that may help here. Because my cursory searching of this passage did not fit my paradigm about salvation, I stuffed it into the pigeon-hole of “does not make sense; consider it later”. Consequently, I missed the meaning entirely; and – get this – I continued living in a paradigm that threatens the strength of my house and my position in heaven.

The simplest example is my choice of foods. Whether I eat pork or not is optional, right? It doesn’t affect my salvation, right? The answer to the second question is easy, “Absolutely, my salvation is not affected by what I eat and drink.”

However, the answer to optionality (the first question) is now more difficult. What if my choices related to the Law affect the strength of my house in the storm? What if they have something to do with my position in the kingdom of heaven?” Now we are back to challenging – very challenging.

I don’t like it when my paradigms are challenged and I am sure you don’t either. However, I have learned to be suspicious of my paradigms and to be grateful when the Lord makes a mess of them. That, it seems, is one of His motivators in the Sermon on the Mount.

Do even the least of these commandments, and teach them.

That is the saying that Jesus would have us do. Now that we are clear on that, let’s again recognize the elephant in the room: We cannot do what Jesus is saying; not in our own strength; not in our flesh. Lest we imagine that we somehow have it in us, He ups the ante.

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20

Not only have I failed in this regard; I have failed miserably. Furthermore, I have tried – with fervent passion to please my Lord – and failed. I have proven to myself (and to others) that neither my efforts nor my righteousness will win the day. Praise God, He has a better plan.

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption… 1Corinthians 1:30

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2Corinthinas 5:21

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

There is only One whose righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. His Father used Him to accomplish the impossible. Through His obedience, He has become our righteousness; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. He has come to fulfill the Law by living the life that can in us. It is only by His life that we may enter the kingdom of heaven. It is by His life that we are saved (Romans 5:10).

In closing, it is important to consider that “we might become the righteousness of God”. The “might” infers “might not”. There is a choice for us to make (i.e., to obey His word). The “become” suggests that we are in process; with many choices to make.

Narrow is the gate, and difficult is the road that leads to eternal life. This matter of Jesus fulfulling the Law is both simple and challenging. We must be careful to avoid the broad and easy way.

God bless you with the wisdom (also Christ Jesus) and courage to make both the simple and challenging choices – to do the sayings of our Lord and Savior.

Humbly yours and forever His,