So Jesus, having just spent several hours hanging out with this large group of folks from all walks of life is sitting down now at the base of a hill and he is addressing this same group of folks letting them know that it does not matter if you are poor or rich, young or old, jew or not, you are included in the Kingdom of God. -- this wonderful existence with God referred to as Heaven by the Jews that begins now, not later.
Everyone had to be so excited. Even folks who were not allowed in the Jewish Synagogue, those folks were being told that they have a seat at this table. This was a happy jubilant time for these folks. until Jesus drops the bomb on them.
In Matthew 5:20 (NIV), right after this little love-in, Jesus says this "For 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."
WHAT? I would have been pissed. So what is all this "every one is blessed, everyone is welcome" BS he was gabbing about earlier? Why say that, only to drop this line afterwards? Is this the old bait and switch we have become accustomed to with these types of individuals?
Look a little closer with me though. This is what Jesus says. "Unless your righteousness…"
Wait a second. Jesus is saying the we have "righteousness" that those folks possess righteousness All of us, each of us! EVERYONE. We all posses this inner goodness that he is referring to.
Born into sin my ass
So who is it that says we were all born with original sin? I mean God himself says in Genesis after creating man and woman "And he/she are good." And now Jesus is referring to an inner goodness that EVERY LIVING SOUL POSSESSES. This is the sort of stuff that leads me to believe that original sin, and sin from birth are constructs created by the early church, designed to make us need the church. We got the sin, and the church has the solution don't they?
So by telling us all these years that we have this disease within us, this scourge that we were born with, we all feel pretty bad about ourselves. But, the church, they say "Come on over here folks, we have the cure, we can make you all better, well at least temporarily, you will always be consumed with sin, but we have the bandaid. " And we just go flooding to the first open door looking for the cure. Don't we?
So here is Jesus saying, NO. You all are possessed by goodness, each of you.
Apples to oranges
So lets continue. He says "Unless your inner goodness surpasses (passes up, is better, beats) that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
Wait a second now, if each of us possess this inner goodness, then what control do we have of whether it is better or passing up that of the pharisees and teachers of the law?
Well the answer is we don't. The answer is also that just by being there and listening to Jesus we/they already have surpassed the folks who depend solely on the rules. All those people, who were just called Blessed, their righteousness already surpasses the Pharisees.
Because they were not depending solely on the law, they were not waiting for the next nugget of truth to be passed down by the teachers. They were seeking out God on their own. Not only were they rejects of the religion of their day, but they had moved on from all of that out of pure necessity. Their inner goodness made them move on. Their righteousness rejected the status quo and made them look for something better. All of the folks who were so concerned with outer appearances and performance and appearing holy, those folks were lumped in with the pharisees. They, along with the pharisees and teachers of the law had trampled their own inner goodness to run towards the triple-guarantee of the written word, the expressed rules of tradition and the holy words of a lost kingdom.
Jesus, was not interested in them, he was interested in these rejects, this band of dirty, homeless, diseased and impoverished people. It's worth thinking about isn't it?