If you ever want to know my favorite Jesus quote, this is it, from Matthew 22:34-40 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
I love this passage because it seems to be the core of Jesus’ message… Love God, Love Others.
As I begin a new year, I want to reflect on what this means and what this should look like.
Do people leave my presence better than when they arrived? Am I partial to those who I extend my love and friendship too? Are there people around me who I have willingly or unwillingly ignored? When I read these words of Jesus I find no conditions in place on who I am to love. I come back to this passage often because I need to be reminded.
There is something else at play here too. Every Jew knew what the greatest command was… and Jesus quotes it straight from Deuteronomy 6:5. In my mind, I can hear Jesus saying, “duh, really? that’s the question you are asking?” In all reality, Jesus answers something that had been debated a couple or so decades before Jesus between two prominent rabbis. The question isn’t “what is the greatest command” everybody knew the answer to that, the real question was “what is the second greatest command?” Almost every rabbi tried to sum up all of the Jewish law into two laws and Jesus does this brilliantly. The debate was if the second greatest command was obedience… remember the Sabbath and keep it holy… or love, love your neighbor.
Jesus settles the debate… love your neighbor, as you want to be loved. Love God and Love Others, this is the lens by which we view all of the Scripture.
It is in this frame of mind that I Look forward to the remainder of 2018.