Perhaps this would be better placed in the Bible Study forum, but I just felt that this was the place, because what Jesus says in the Scripture we will look at demands our total DEVOTION! Look at Matthew 5:17-20. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you. Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:17-20 (KJV) Ok, Jesus here lays down the gauntlet! He has done some preaching, teaching, and healing for awhile. Crowds had gathered around Him not so much to repent and find salvation as to be healed and to hear Him out of curiosity. In God's timing, Jesus, moved with compassion toward the lost and confused crowds, goes up on a mountain alone and prays all night. The next morning, He chooses His Twelve Apostles and eventually gathers them all together on what was most likely the mountain called the Mount of the Beatitudes to begin the Sermon on the Mount, which He begins with the Beatitudes. Luke 6 makes it a little clearer that the crowds were still very much present. But you could also call this and Ordination Sermon for the Apostles. It was a message EVERYONE needs to hear. But there was a third group of people present, the scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders. They were upset with Jesus for many reasons, and were already seeking how to destroy Him. Jesus was very angry with them, yes, angry and rightly so! Yes, when people in leadership are not living what Jesus taught and yet were demanding that everyone else abide by God's law in the Old Testament, that's an OK time to be angry! The Pharisees laid claim that they totally kept God's Laws, (do you know the story of the rich young ruler?). Yet they basically said that God's Law (the Old Testament) was not enough. They had added over 600 other rules and regulations they expected everyone to obey and given their man-made laws the same authority as the Old Testament!. Yet, if they weren't living up to even the Big Ten, how could they legitimately lay claim to keeping all those that they had added? They were satisfied just to make people THINK they were abiding by the law. They had begun to accuse Jesus of trying to destroy the Law. Jesus, of ALL people! They laid claim that He violated the Sabbath when he healed a man. They also did not believe He was God in the flesh, so when He began casting out demons, they said He was doing so under Satan's power. UNREAL! So here comes the gauntlet: Jesus made it clear that He had not come to destroy the Law, but to totally fulfill it, and He was the ONLY ONE who could. To say that Jesus would destroy His own Father's law was preposterous! But again, they didn't believe He WAS God's Son! Jesus then presents the gauntlet! He urges both the Apostles and the crowds NOT to follow the hypocritical living of their religious leaders! But first, He totally affirms the absolute authority of the Old Testament! He said that one jot or one title would not pass from the Law until all was fulfilled. Now He meant God's Law, not the petty rules and regulations that the scribes and Pharisees had added on! Jot and tittle. Not common words these days. In both the Hebrew and Greek alphabets the smallest letter was much smaller than any of the others. In Hebrew it was yod or yodh, and looked much like our apostrophe. In Greek, it was iota, just a tiniest downward brushstroke. HMMM! So, in plain English, Jesus was saying that until Heaven and earth pass away, not one i would go undotted or one t uncrossed until it was ALL fulfilled. If you visit the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, you'll find a bit of manuscript of the book of Isaiah. Our guide told us that there was not the slightest difference between that manuscript and the modern Hebrew translation! SO, Jesus affirmed the Law of God, and then here comes the gauntlet in full: He said that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, or we won't get into Heaven. He has already spent the Beatitudes telling us that it is impossible to have the character of God on our own. He would spent the rest of the Sermon on the Mount saying that we MUST have the character of the God in whose image we are created, but we can't do that on our own! That, my friends is why we have a Savior, Jesus Himself! That is why He died on the cross. It is ONLY through HIS righteousness that we can be forgiven of our sins (and we all have done that), and only through His righteousness that we can enter Heaven. There is absolutely NOTHING we can do to merit Heaven, but Jesus has done EVERYTHING necessary for us to get there! He lived, died, rose again, and is coming back to take His believers home to Heaven. The bad part about the whole deal was that those religious leaders were rapidly leading people in exactly the opposite direction! "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8. The gauntlet is laid down and the choice is yours. Are you trying to live in your own power, trusting in your own goodness, or do you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He is the only One who can save you! Don't lead others astray by the bad example of legalism! Grace and love are freely offered! Take it, then share it!