The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, 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.
 At first glance, that’s pretty condemning.  Who among us can honestly say they are doing absolutely all they can to be pleasing to God in everything they say and do?  Certainly these Scribes and Pharisees thought they were pleasing to God.  After all, the Israelites were God’s own chosen people.  They had more rules and regulations to live by than the forest has trees.  They observed multiple commandments every day, and were brought up from childhood to do so.  They spent years memorizing scriptures.  They gave tithes of all their increase, and prayed continually, never missed Sabbath at the Synagogue, kept the dietary laws, the Holy Days, never touched anything unclean. They refused to as much as eat with someone from another country.  If entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven could be achieved by works, surely they were on the fast track.  And yet the Lord Jesus said that wasn’t enough, moving the bar yet higher, He said if you wanted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, your righteousness had to exceed even theirs.  The “entrance exam” was already tough, now the requirements were impossible to achieve.  After all, who could possibly hope to exceed their righteousness?
 Looking at all the hoops they jumped through in their quest for the Kingdom of Heaven, I’d say they wanted it pretty badly, and few today in our society would equal their commitment.  I find it hard these days to find someone who is willing to forsake their pursuits in life, who is willing to surrender their life to God, requiring only “Thy will be done.”  But those who do find the “entrance exam” bar has been moved yet again.
 Knowing we could not possibly hope to have the required righteousness to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, things looked pretty bleak for us, but God the Father had the solution.  Although our righteousness was as dirty rags, He looked to His own righteousness and saw the solution:  why not give them HIS righteousness?  For those who are willing to make Jesus their Lord and live unto Him, saying “Thy will be done”, He indeed makes His will come to pass in our lives.  What is His will?  It is written in 2 Peter 3:9, The LORD is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 
 Many people think of God as judgmental, harsh and hard, laying requirement upon requirement upon us so severely that there is no hope whatsoever of pleasing Him.  What we see now is absolutely astounding, that the love the Lord Jesus has for us is so great that He himself paid the price for our sins, imparting His own righteousness to us, of His own free will, so that none need perish.  Has He lowered the requirements so we could meet the minimum?  No! 
He made them so high that only He could meet them, and then the Lord Jesus went and took the “entrance exam” in our place, and passed it, and then handed the test in with our name on it.  His heavenly Father was so well pleased that He said the requirement was met.  Indeed, the requirement for more righteousness than the Scribes and Pharisee had was still required, only it was met in a most extraordinary way.  Is that cheating?
No, the way I see it, God is God, and He can do anything He pleases, and if this is the only way He could assure our salvation, then who am I to argue?  It pleased the Lord Jesus to do this for us, and the Father is pleased.  In fact, all of heaven is pleased!  And I am overjoyed, not only because my ticket to salvation is paid in full,  I have also been given the opportunity to know the love of God which passes all understanding  And never again do I have to fret and worry about my future holds when this earthly life is over.
Never in a million years would I have thought that God is so gracious!  I had Him figured out all wrong during those “me, myself and I” years I was running from Him, mostly because of what I’d been taught by others.  Had I simply taken the time to study my Bible, it would have been revealed to me, but like most people, I had what was perceived to be more important things to do in life.  Only when the bottom fell out of my little bucket did I start to earnestly seek God.  Looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, although it didn’t look like it at the time.  God didn’t make cancer happen to me, because the Lord Jesus said in John 10:10, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: but I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Let me assure you of something, cancer is not “life more abundantly”.  But life more abundantly was available to me all along, only I was just to rebellious and hard-headed to see it.  My way was the right way, and I had little regard for anyone else, let alone for God.  The awesome patience and longsuffering of the Lord was put to the test when it came to me.  Yet He was not willing that I should perish, but that I come to repentance so He could show His goodness to me.  Why me?  He said, Why NOT you?
Today, if you’re running from God because you think His requirements are out of reach, take heart, He made a better way.  Your past failures are not important to God, for He isn’t living in the past, what’s done is done.  TODAY, right now, He is looking to show you His grace and mercy.  He made a way for your righteousness to exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, indeed, in that He sent His Son Jesus to take the “entrance exam” in your place.  So what are you waiting for, a written invitation?  Ok, here it is: you’re reading it right now.  Don’t let this one get away.  Let’s pray.
Father God, I’ll make this short and simple, my own righteousness won’t get me into the Kingdom of Heaven, I need help. Please forgive my sins and apply the exceeding righteousness of the Lord Jesus to my life, and show me how to live every day for You from now on, I ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.