In 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17, it says that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.
Scripture, as described here does to us, by reading and soaking it in, all that we would normally have done to us by the teaching stories of a loving father to his children (as we are reminded to always be, children) to grow in maturity and faith. By the way, Jesus speaks in parables oft, because he is giving milk to babies (as is expounded upon in Hebrews 5: 11 – 14) expecting that as we meditate more and more on his word, we would “mature, [and] through training have the skill to recognise the difference between right and wrong”.
Sometimes God is direct and at other times, he speaks through Jesus in parables. Indeed, Jesus is using parables in some parts of Matthew 5 but not all the examples as he expounds on what he means by fulfillment of the law. He is saying that the law as given in Exodus, is not being abolished by him, Jesus, but he is fulfilling it. Fleshing out his words here is an entirely different discussion and not necessary for what I’m trying to illustrate. For a fuller explanation of what he means by fulfilling the law, check Hebrews 10, where it eventually says that this new requirement of God is transformative, from the inside out.
I’m looking more closely at the fact that Christ is saying “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
What he was in essence saying was that you need to have a righteousness that is more than surface deep*. In the topics Jesus covers in Matthew 5: murder, adultery, divorce, making vows (oaths), revenge, and loving one’s enemies, he is drawing a point of depth. There is a deeper instinct involved than what the law previously required. And it mustn’t just be acknowledged but rather, surpassed. We mustn’t just seem to be obeying a law, but our thoughts and motives must also be addressed.
Let me go through the topics Jesus covered:
Murder: Instead of just refusing to kill someone, we must also not have evil thoughts toward them.
Bearing grudges: Reconcile yourself to your friends and family, before presenting yourself and your service to God. Do not go to God with unforgiveness in your heart. Be quick to settle differences.
Adultery/Lust: It talks about lusting in your heart, even if you don’t commit adultery.
Divorce: This is not a parable*. It is very clear in what it says, “..a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.”
Making Vows: In acknowledging the sovereignty of God over us, we should not make vows, as we are incapable of truly keeping a vow. It is God who enables us to do all things.
Revenge: In Moses law, the punishment used to match the injury but no more. Now, Jesus says, ‘do not resist an evil person’. Do not repay wickedness for wickedness but rather for kindness. Always be open to serve others, regardless of how they treat you.
Love for Enemies: This follows from Jesus’ previous point on revenge, as he continues to encourage those listening to love and pray for even those who treat you bad and hate you. Because, as true children of a Godwho sends sun and rain on all of man, we should do good, in season, to all of man.
Jesus says in verse 48, ‘to be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ and this can be quite a challenge, if our minds are not continuously being transformed, as He would not tell us to do something for which he would not enable us…We must recognise our need for him to lead us, however, as it says in the beginning of Matthew 5; “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, who know their need for God for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
*In Matthew 15: 1 – 20,Jesus contrasts the rule-following of the Pharisees, versus their actual heart condition, saying of them, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Does your righteousness surpass the blind legalism of the Pharisees? Are your hearts constantly being transformed as you follow Jesus in his way, by his truth and towards his life?
a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. If something doesn’t take the form of a story, or it hasn’t been explicitly expressed that their is a parable involved, then their isn’t. If the speech is direct in discussing a principle or action, it is not a parable.