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TOV #howisthisgood?

Updated: Aug 1, 2022


We know the Bible is called the GOOD NEWS, but sometimes what we read doesn’t seem like good news at all! If you are anything like me, the temptation is just to skip over that section and get to the parts that sound good and are easier to apply to our lives. Matthew 5:17-20 is one of those that we can be tempted to skip over.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 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 5:17-20 (NIV)


Reading this verse reminds me of trying to do high Jump at school. The bar keeps getting higher until it’s impossible to jump over it without crash landing on top of it. “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law…” well that just feels impossible to me! But when we find something in scripture that confuses us, we need to zoom out to see how it fits into the broader story of scripture to make sure we understand it correctly.


Context is important when reading the Bible! And when we look at the bigger story, we see that Jesus Himself broke many of the “rules” set out by the Pharisees. The rules and laws that the Pharisees aimed to keep were added to the original laws God gave to Moses by religious leaders of the day. They were almost impossible to keep, but more importantly, they were largely focused on what you can see on the outside and had very little to do with heart change or willingness to do God’s will. More of a tick box approach than a lifestyle of love and relationship with God.


So, when reading the Bible it may be helpful to keep the following in mind:


1) What you think about Jesus probably needs to be rethought.

2) If you are asking “What can, or can’t I do?” You need a better question.

3) If you are feeling the pressure to perform, you need a different perspective.


1) What you think about Jesus probably needs to be rethought.


If we don't dig deeper, we limit Jesus to a good teacher, who sets a really high bar, we, think the OT is irrelevant, focus on the NT only, and miss the context, so our view becomes limited to trying to do the right thing, legalism so that we get to heaven and avoid hell.


What Jesus was saying is he had come to fulfill everything that was before. Jesus is the key to the OT Testament. Jesus came to keep the law, to be the Messiah, and to provide the sacrifice so that we can be made righteous before God.



God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

The great exchange!

2) If you are asking “What can, or can’t I do?” You need a better question.


Jesus does not say that one must keep the commandments to enter the kingdom of heaven because He is far more interested in heart change than outward behaviour management. When we become so focused on behaviour management, we miss out on the opportunity to be transformed inwardly!

So here is the better question: Rather than ask what I can I / can’t I do… ask WHY do I want to do this or that, because this is getting to heart motivation. Is this going to honor God or not?

Is this going to bring me closer to Him?


21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24 (NIV)


3) If you are feeling the pressure to perform, you need a different perspective.


The Kingdom of heaven is not heaven in the future, simply the opposite of hell. But it’s here and now, where God's rule and reign is, where His will is done. It is the message Jesus came to bring. Repent. Change the way you think. I'm about to turn things upside down. Jesus is setting up an invitation to a new kind of righteousness, a new quality.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

You do not need to perform, to jump over the incredibly high bar, because Jesus came to do that for you! God is not looking at our outward actions, rather He looks at our hearts and our faith in Jesus.

When you put your faith in Jesus and his finished work, it’s like you get the gold medal, without even having to jump the bar.


Now, this is how the Bible is GOOD NEWS! I pray that this grips your heart and gives you new lenses to read the Bible and a fresh perspective on who Jesus is.



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