20 “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.”
Matthew 5:20 (NIV)
Arriving at a state, national or world ranking is a pretty special moment. Have you ever been there? The climb is steep and hard. I think I’m gonna replicate that feeling a little tomorrow. I set out with my family to climb a 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado. Coming off a total hip replacement eight weeks ago will certainly challenge me, but I’m up for it. We’ll see how it goes.
Still, there’s one ranking Jesus said we have no chance at unless we get some major outside help: reaching the kingdom of Heaven. He said our only chance at making it in is by superseding the apparently most righteous guys on earth. I don’t see myself making that happen. Do you?
Yet Jesus leads us to believe it still is possible to climb “Mt. Righteousness” and get to Heaven. He says we can be moved to “great” status in His kingdom by practicing and teaching God’s commands. This is something the Pharisees and teachers of the law were doing full-time but apparently still failing to get to the top (Matthew 5:19). How can we do something they can’t?
Jesus points us to Himself to solve this one. He invites us to climb the mountain with Him, through Him. He is the Righteous One. To have Him is to have all the righteousness I need to enter the kingdom of Heaven. To be taught by Him, commanded by Him, empowered by Him, journeying with Him, is to climb to the top, to get ultimately ranked.
Athlete, what’s your spiritual rank? Are you going to make it to the top, entering the kingdom of Heaven? If not, why not? If yes, what makes you think so?
Prayer to consider today: LORD, show us the vanity of trying to climb to the top, getting ranked apart from getting there through Your Son. Thank You for His provision of righteous ranking and all the celebration His righteous teachings and righteous provisions bring to all of us who trust and follow Him.