29 April – 5 May 2018.
Which is the most important law in the Bible? If we had to answer that question, I think many people would choose one of the so-called Ten Commandments. Most people know those commandments very well, and we even find them written out twice in the Old Testament – once in Exodus 20 and again in Deuteronomy 5. But in Matthew 22:36 when Christ is asked which law is the most important, he didn’t choose just one law, he chose two – neither of them from the Ten Commandments! Instead Jesus chose first the commandment that we find in Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
That law sounds goods, but how do we actually obey it? We know how to love other people; we have experience loving our wives and husbands, our children and friends. But how do we love God? That’s why Jesus immediately matches this law with another one from Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbour as yourself” (again, not one of the Ten Commandments).
Jesus chooses these 2 commands as the greatest, and he tells us that they are actually both alike. That’s because the way we love God is precisely by loving others. We love the God we cannot see by loving the people around us who we can see. That means if we want to love God, we must also love our neighbours. Or to put it another way: We cannot say that we love God if we hate others.
Jesus makes this very clear for us in Matthew 25 when he tells the parable of the sheep and the goats. When the time of judgement comes Christ will divide up the sheep and the goats, those who are righteous and those who are not. The way Christ does this is by judging one simple thing: Who has loved others and who has not? In Matt 25:40, Jesus tells us directly: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” It is by loving others around us, by loving the people we see, that we love the God we cannot see.
That’s why we as Christians stress that really the greatest commandment of all is the new command that Jesus gives us in John 13:34: that we should love one another, just as Jesus has loved us. As Christ’s disciples, I really hope we can do that this week.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis