Beyond the Standards

Matthew 5:20
But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the
righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven! (v.20).

In 1957, a remarkable story written by Colonel William
Draper appeared in Look magazine. The article
was published under the title: “I Fly the President.”

Colonel Draper said that worry was his business and US
President Eisenhower’s safety was his reward. To achieve
that safety, 33 specialists were responsible for the
Columbine III aircraft prior to, during, and after a flight.
If oil was leaking, the crew checked it ten times rather
than the standard two times. People often asked Draper
what it was like to have the President’s life in his hands.
“I think it demands a special dedication. Aeronautical
standards are not enough to satisfy those who fly the
President,” he replied.

When it comes to following Jesus, just adhering to the
standard isn’t enough either. He wants His followers to
go beyond the standard stuff. After saying that He had
come to uphold the law (Matthew 5:17), Jesus used six
portions of the law to teach vital truths. In each example,
He quoted a passage, and then He used common
teaching methods to explain what it fully meant.

With each passage, Jesus established His authority and
called His followers to a greater righteousness that went
beyond that of the Pharisees. He wasn’t contradicting the
law, but was simply correcting wrong interpretations of it.

He could do this because His authority was greater.
As followers of Jesus, He’s calling us to go beyond the
standard in dealing with anger. We do this by seeking complete reconciliation
(5:21-26), dealing with lust and adultery by not using our senses to incite abnormal
and forbidden desires (vv.27-30), dealing with marriage and divorce by committing
to the sacredness and seriousness of marriage (vv.31-32), dealing with oaths by
being truthful even when it hurts (vv.33-37), and dealing with our enemies by
covering them with showers of grace and love (vv.38-48).

—Marvin Williams

Read through Matthew 5:1 to see what Jesus is calling His followers to
live out.

What are your initial responses to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:1?
What challenges you the most in this teaching?


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