Christ, Your Exceeding Righteousness (Matthew 5:17-20)

Many evangelical churches view the Law of the Old Testament as being set aside, completed or no longer in view.  This is clearly contrary not only to what Christ teaches but also what the epistles teach.  The promises found in Matthew 5:3-16, do not address the blessings which come, apart from the law, rather they are accomplished through the law, specifically through the righteous life of Christ.

This revelation is important.  Christ points in v20, contrasting the failed righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, to a greater righteousness- without which we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.  It is a mistake to think Christ is presenting evidence of true righteousness found in the practices of those mentions; in fact Chapter 6 will reflect upon the perversions of the Law condemning the failure of those who practice, false humility, spirituality, and false sacrifice.

Christ is giving lessons on how to properly practice the Law and the Prophets, but points to himself as the one who will fulfill the present and future prophecies from which not the smallest recorded detail will fail.  The emphasis is on focusing correctly upon Christ as the one fulfilling the Law, upon Christ, and not perfect practice of the Law.  Note the contrast in this section with the blessings in the preceding verses, Matthew 5:1-12.  Blessings are pronounced upon those who live their lives according to peace, mercy, sorrow, humility, seeking after righteousness, and those who are persecuted for the sake of the righteousness which is found in Christ alone, not upon those who practice the Law perfectly.  Our response is to REJOICE in our blessings, and to SHINE forth the light of the gospel of Christ in our lives.  This is the context which brings us to these verses.

Elder Matthew Davis
Covenant Reformed Church
at Grass Valley

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