MATTHEW 5:23_Therefore, if thy bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberst that thy brother has ought against thee;
Don’t be confused about altars. When you come to Jesus’ salvation altar, come with your broken, bleeding, messed up life. This is the time to ask Jesus into your life. He accepts you just as you are. It’s Jesus’ job to clean you up. His full forgiveness is immediate. Then He begins the process to repair the breaks, bind the wounds, and sweep up the mess you call your life. This doesn’t happen overnight – but it does happen.
Jesus cleanses like Dove™ – He is not a soap, He is a beauty bar!
The altar in this verse comes after your salvation experience. You are ready and eager to serve Jesus. You come because you want to be a part of the earthly kingdom of heaven. Now Jesus hands the broom to you.
If there are people in your past with wounds you’ve inflicted, Jesus wants you to repair the wounds as much as is possible on your part.
Possibly the Scribes and Pharisees didn’t like this teaching. They believed the Law had to do with loving God, not people. Jesus says the two go together. This is why the Scribes and Pharisees did not know the Messiah when they saw His miracles, or heard Him teach unconditional love.
Neither did they know Him when they slapped Him in the face, spat upon Him, or saw Him die in their place – and asked God to forgive them.
Forgiving God, Praise You that You take me just as I am. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ accepts me—He makes the necessary changes!
MATTHEW 5:20_you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
If the kingdom of heaven is within you, it is in your heart. What is in your heart calls you to discipleship. You become disciples to whomever or whatever reigns on the heart’s throne. If Christ does not reign on the throne, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, and this time that works whether the kingdom is part of this earthly life, or it is eternal life.
The hearts of the Scribes and Pharisees were full of religion. They would have had to make room for Jesus to reign there. If Jesus reigned in their hearts, they would have known who He was.
The Scribes and Pharisees’ righteousness was self-righteousness, thriving on self-glory and power. The righteousness in the kingdom of heaven thrives on doing good by serving others, which glorifies God. The heart, being the center of your thoughts, makes the decision as to who you want your life to glorify – self or God.
You have only one chance to live this life. If your goal is to use your life to make a difference in the world for good – then you’ve got Jesus’ righteousness.
The world will recognize Jesus when it sees your righteousness.
Heavenly Father, Thank You that You can be seen in me. Thank You that through Your power I can do Your works. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ reigns in hearts—I want Him in mine!
MATTHEW 5:20_But I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees…
Jesus asks us to compare our righteousness to that of the Scribes and Pharisees. If we’d been trained and educated in the Law to the degree they had, we’d be one of them.
Look closer. Jesus does not want just a comparison. He wants our righteousness to exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees! What? How can an average Sunday school, church-goer have more righteousness than the educated, religious power-people?
Can it be that Jesus is not impressed with the Scribes and Pharisees’ righteousness? How is that possible? They were all about the Law, and Jesus just finished teaching the importance of the Law. He taught He did not come to earth to destroy the Law.
Also, He had just taught that to break even the least commandment carries with it a heavy consequence – to be least in the kingdom of heaven! So, why does Jesus not stand in awe of the ones who spend their time teaching and observing it?
Holy God, I want my righteousness to be more than knowledge. Please teach me how to live it. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ lives righteousness—He wants me to do that too!
MATTHEW 5:19_the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Can you think of a more beautiful reward than to be called great in the kingdom of heaven? It surpasses any honor the world can offer.
To receive this reward means you believe in and teach (by word or influence) Biblical commands. If this were impossible Jesus never would have taught the principle. The road to the reward begins with some understanding of the life of Jesus. The understanding can’t be gained without Bible reading and meditating (dwelling on until you have it in your heart) on what you read. Bible study needs to be filled with prayer. This is what is known as a daily quiet time.
Dedication to a quiet time leads you to become a salty-lit-up disciple. You won’t have one without the other. The Bible, prayer, discipleship, salt, and light are BFFs.
Jesus clears up some of His teachings in the rest of this chapter. His balance of judgment and mercy equaling the fulfillment of the Law gives some understanding.
Learning to distinguish the spirit of the Law from the letter of the Law brings everything together.
Savior of the World, I want to be great in the kingdom of heaven. I want to believe that if You said it then it is possible. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ is the Spirit of the Law—He wants to teach me!
MATTHEW 5:19_he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven…
The importance of the word least continues, but changes from a description of the Law to a description of a person.
When you take into consideration all the laws, the least one is indeed – least! Yet Jesus makes it important enough that to break the least law and teach others to follow your lead, causes you to be least in the kingdom of heaven.
Think of this in New Testament terms to see a better view: How heartbreaking it would be if you were part of what encompasses the Bride of Christ, and called least by the Groom. You don’t want the word least to refer in any kind of way to your relationship with Jesus!
Who could keep from breaking even a small law out of so many? No one.
There’s hope! Don’t give up yet!
Lord Jesus, Thank You for giving me hope. Thank You that if I follow You, I have no need to ever give up. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ is my hope—I won’t give up!