Can I ever fulfill what Jesus claims in the Sermon on the Mount?
Yes, if I look at Jesus with the eyes of faith.
No, if I see in him only the teacher and master, the one who demands, gives orders and commands.
Jesus is much more than a teacher, he is the son of God who came to save us, who loved us so much that he even gave his life for us. This latter aspect I can see only with the eyes of faith, but once I see and accept Jesus in this way, it becomes possible for me to follow him and to fulfill all his commands.
I am weak and sinful. Of course I cannot match the incredible high standard Jesus asks for:
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.“ (Mt 5:20 ESV)
Reading this, heaven seems unreachable for me.
The sribes and Pharisees, we should never look down on them, even though they are rebuked so often by Jesus. They were people striving to live a holy life, fulfilling all moral, ethical, religious requirements of the law.
It may was a life focused on outward appearance – still it is admirable what they achieved. Am I always correct in my outward appearance? It's difficult enough, how much more difficult it is to fulfill, additionally, the requirement that Jesus claims: to be righteous not only in my outward ways, but also in the motifs of my heart.
I might manage, more or less, to live a good life before people, to control my anger, greed and envy. But how many dark and dirty things do I find when I look into my heart, at my thoughts, emotions.
Still, to enter the Kingdom of God, my righteousness must be even better than the outward perfection of the Pharisees.
How is it possible? Not by my own ability, but only by the cleansing power of the love and grace of God, which has been revealed, above all, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is much more than a teacher. He gave his life so that I, by accepting this great love from him, can follow the way he went, and become like him. Accepting the immeasurable love of Jesus is the only way to become righteous, both in my outward life and in the deepest motifs of my heart.
So let us listen to Jesus, look at his life, and accept his love in our hearts – this love has the power to overcome death, how much more will it be able to transform my heart and thereby change my entire life, so that eventually I may joyfully enter the kingdom of heaven.