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
With multitudes following Him early in His ministry, Jesus sat down to teach them. He taught not as the scribes, but as one having authority. He stated that He had not come to destroy the Law, but fulfill it. Till heaven and earth pass away, the Law shall remain, He taught. Anyone who breaks one of the least of the commandments shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
Following these eye-opening statements comes an even more remarkable one. To even be in the kingdom of heaven to be called least, He stated that one’s righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.
This was most remarkable because as far as keeping the Law was concerned, the scribes and the Pharisees had dedicated their lives to studying, memorizing, and living the most minute details of the Law to the best of human ability to do so.
Jesus stated in no uncertain terms that one’s righteousness must exceed the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Implicit in this statement is the fact that the scribes and Pharisees were not going to enter the kingdom.
If those who had dedicated their lives to keeping the Law could not do it well enough to enter the kingdom, what chance did ordinary men and women who were busy working and raising families? The obvious conclusion: NO CHANCE!
This was exactly the truth that Jesus was trying to get us to see. By works of the Law shall no flesh be saved!
The obvious question? How can anyone be saved? Here again was the truth that Jesus wanted them to ask, and seek, and knock to find. We need a Savior! God was in Jesus the Messiah providing Him. The truth, the answer to their every hope and question was standing before them. To the one who believed in Him, though he died, yet he is alive.
The same truth faces us today. The Law still stands. How can we who have not even tried to keep it hope to be saved by it? We cannot. How then can we enter into the kingdom of heaven? There is only one name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. That is the name of Jesus.