If You Gave Him a Foot, He Wanted Two

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling

"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

Introduction by Mark Roberts: I am pleased to welcome Dr. Scot McKnight as our reflections writer for this week. In his day job, Scot is Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He is a prolific writer whose books span the spectrum from the academic to the devotional. Scot's highly acclaimed blog, Jesus Creed, appears at, the website that hosts my blog as well. I have had the chance to spend time with Scot in a variety of settings including Laity Lodge when he has spoken there. He is a delightful, faithful, prayerful, brilliant man, one I am pleased to call a friend. The reflections you'll read this week grow out of work Scot is doing on a commentary on The Sermon on the Mount. It will appear in the same series as my commentary on Ephesians (which Scot asked me to write, by the way). I'm thankful for Scot's willingness to contribute the Daily Reflections. I know you will share my gratitude as you allow Scot's prayerful writing to guide you into deeper relationship with the Lord. —Mark

Way back when we wore short shorts and Converse All-Stars, I played basketball. On my bedroom wall were some posters of my favorite basketball player, Oscar Robertson, The Big O. It was said of Oscar, that if you gave him a foot, he wanted two. In basketball that means he always pushed to get one foot closer to the basket, and he was strong enough to get what he wanted. Like a person with an insatiable appetite, he always wanted more.

Jesus has an insatiable appetite like that. God is so big and great, so good and loving, so majestic and holy, that his disciples could never give God enough. God gave all of who he was to make us all of what we are designed to be. His grace empowers us to become grace-filled people. So there is always more to give in following Jesus. Jesus was not creating a new legalism designed to drive us batty, but instead he made the ultimate claim on our lives: He wants more because, as Lord, he wants our heart.

I want to reflect with you on a word that is present in Matthew 5:20 but often absent in the translation. The word “surpasses” could be translated “even more surpassing,” and that is enough for us to see that Jesus wants more from us, he wants our righteousness to be more than what he sees in the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Later in this chapter, at 5:47, Jesus asks his disciples, who are also prone to love only their own kind, “What are you doing more than others?” This word “more” matters to Jesus. “More” marks the disciple.

Jesus looks at you and me today and he calls to us: “I want you. I want all of you. I want more than you’ve given before because I am worthy.” He wants more of us at home—in relationships with those we love, in gardening, in what we buy for the home; he wants more of us at work—in relationships with those above and below and at our level, in what we do and in how we do it; he wants more of us at church—in fellowship, in worship, in service, and in the exercise of gifts.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you find these words of Jesus “hard” or do you see them calling to your deepest core for more? Where do you think there is more of Jesus’ claim on your life? Where do you see evidence that Jesus has a claim on your life? Where do you think your church needs to hear the “more” of Jesus?

PRAYER: Our Father, you sent your Son to this world because you love me. You emptied yourself for all of us. Through the summons of Jesus may I hear this call to “more,” and may your Spirit empower me to empty myself for you and for others as my expression of gratitude.

Even more Father, give me eyes to see how Jesus gave himself—all of himself to the point of death—for others; give me ears to hear his words; and give me the heart and hands and feet to respond to his call on me today.

And will you Father reveal to us in your grace where you want this more in my life today? Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

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