All of us grow up familiar with rules. Our parents had rules for us. Schools had rules. The community had rules. If you are the parent of a teenager, I’ll bet you have heard at least once,
Aw, you never want me to have any fun. And if you are teenager, you have heard, in answer to your question,
Why? the words,
Because I said so.
When you grow up and move away from home, you no longer have to obey the rules of your parents, but does that mean the rules have been abolished? Hardly. We hope that they have been internalized by the time we move away from home. Mom and Dad will no longer be there to see that we brush our teeth and shine our shoes, but they hope we will continue to take care of ourselves. Similarly, God intends for us to internalize his rules, to make them a part of our character. To be out from under parental administration in no way invalidates the things they have taught us. So perhaps we can understand why Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said:
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 away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 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. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
The Pharisees observed many rules, yet our righteousness must exceed theirs. What was wrong with the righteousness of the Pharisees?