February 2

Text: Matthew 5:20

 "For I say to you. . . . (NASB)

“Told you so!”  Do you not hate to hear those words!  In the American culture, that statement means, “I was right, and you were wrong!”  It stings so badly to be “wrong” that we often are determined to prove that we were and are right.  Whatever it takes, we will prove we were right!

What Jesus said needed to be said.  The description of a righteous person, the effect of being righteous, God working through common people, God’s true intent, and the challenge to exceed the righteousness of religious leaders likely hurt—like momentarily taking the air out of one’s lungs.  It was “dead on right,” but it hurt.  Simply because something is right does not mean the realization is painless.

Jesus was not trying to produce pain for his hearers.  What he said was not an “in your face and I do not care” statement.  To focus his audience, the rest of chapter 5 is devoted to illustrations of the wrong concepts of righteousness.  Warning: It is easy to become involved in theological discussions of controversial subjects to the extent that we miss Jesus’ point.

The rest of chapter 5 will be devoted to illustrating Jesus’ (thus God’s) concern.  They were living by and endorsing an inadequate concept of righteousness.  Their concept of righteousness and God’s intent in being righteous were not the same!  Jesus demonstrated his point!  This was a challenge to think and evaluate, not a challenge to reject what he said.  Nothing would be accomplished through rejection!  Jesus' goal was not an “I told you so!”  His goal was to produce understanding and insight.

Suggestion for reflection: Produce understanding, not conflict.  (Read Galatians 6:1, 2.)

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