February 4 – Love God, Love Everyone

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 4 – Love God, Love Everyone

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-33; Luke 10:27).

This is probably my favorite passage of scripture because every rule we think we have to follow, every commandment, every moral law comes down to these two commandments.  Love God. Love everyone.

The Pharisees were keepers of the Law.  They liked nothing better than to watch other people and then catch them in an infraction.  And they really liked catching religious leaders like Jesus in minor infractions.  They spent hours studying the Law of Moses and making sure they understood every jot and tittle.  So, one day, one of the Pharisees, who also happened to be a lawyer decided to test Jesus.

The Ten Commandments were the epitome of obedience to God.  Moses was one of their great patriarchs.  How could Jesus possibly extract himself from the question this man was about to pose?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

No matter what Jesus might say, it would be damaging to his ministry.  If he said that they were to not make an idol, did that mean this was a greater commandment than keeping the Sabbath Day holy?  If Jesus talked about the sanctity of life and that they were not to kill, was that more important than honoring parents?  There was no possible way Jesus could answer this question … or so they thought.

But Jesus threw them.  He quoted from the Shema, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Religious Jews recited this twice every day.  It was the very definition of their faith. They believed in One True God.  This belief separated them from the other religions that surrounded them.

Then, Jesus said, “And love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you look at the Ten Commandments found in either Exodus 20:1-17 or Deuteronomy 5:4-21, you will find that Jesus wrapped them up neatly and tied them with a bow before setting them before the Pharisees.  The first four deal directly with our relationship to God.

1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Then, the next six deal with our relationship to others.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.

If we love God with everything we are, we will keep the first four commandments. If we love others with everything we are, we will keep the last six commandments.

Love God. Love others.