Thursday, December 25, 2008

High Jumper Or Pole Vaulter?

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 5:20)

The Pharisees were high jumpers. They had become masters, in their own estimation, of jumping over the horizontal bar of God's requirements - and they took great pride in such lofty thoughts! As a high jumper uses the strength in his own legs to clear the bar without the aid of any devices, so too did the Pharisees attempt to leap the great chasm that separates us from God through the efforts of their own self righteousness.

In their own thinking, and of those who beheld them, it seemed that they had succeeded! It seemed they had mastered the apparatus, they had obtained their salvation, they had risen to the heights that demanded entry into the Lambs book of life.

I can almost hear the whispers of the crowd to one another, when Christ exhorted those in his hearing that their righteousness must surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.

It may have sounded like a call to train harder, but he was not coaching them on to greater heights!

Jesus did not raise the bar a few inches in order to push them a little harder, to jump a little higher, to build greater strength in the legs of their own self righteousness! In fact, he did not raise the bar at at! The bar was never lowered! He stood them before the pole vaulting apparatus and said, now jump this.

An impossible task!

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:25-26)

As it is physically impossible for a man in his own strength to high jump the 19 to 20 feet required on the pole vault apparatus, so it is impossible for a man to present himself before God as perfect, spotless, righteous and deserving of eternal life! It cannot be done!

He cannot look within, he cannot dig down deep! He must rely on the ability of another! When the vaulter races in and places his pole in that cup, he rests all of his weight on the ability of the pole to not only hold him, but catapult him to heights he could never go on his own.

It is the same with the believer! When he swings out into eternity, he rests all his weight on the person and work of Christ! And this is not a fearful thing! There is great rest and comfort in this thought. For Christ will not drop you, he will not let you slip - but will carry you safely to His side.