“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (7/09/10): Demand #32 “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself, For This Is The Law and The Prophets”

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 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. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

“The focus of the “second” commandment—“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39) is not on whether the receiver of love is an enemy or a friend, but on whether the one who loves desires the neighbor’s good as he desires his own. Its importance is seen by the two stupendous things that lie on either side of it. On one side is the greatest commandment in the Word of God—“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” On the other side is the assertion that everything written in the Law and the Prophets hangs on these two commandments. We are in the company of incomparable superlatives—the two greatest commandments in the entire Word of God, and all of that Word hanging on them. We should take off our shoes in reverence here. There are few texts of Scripture greater than this.

The second commandment seems to me to be an overwhelming commandment. It seems to demand that I tear the skin off my body and wrap it around another person so that I feel that I am that other person; and all the longings that I have for my own safety and health and success and happiness I now feel for that other person as though he were me. It is an absolutely staggering commandment. If this is what it means, then something unbelievably powerful and earthshaking and reconstructing and overturning and upending will have to happen in our souls. Something supernatural. Something well beyond what self-preserving, self-enhancing, self-exalting, self-esteeming, self-advancing, fallen human beings like me can do on their own.

Underlining the greatness of this commandment is the fact that it is surpassed only by the command to love God with our whole being. Underlining the importance of the second commandment is the sweeping statement that all the Law and the Prophets hang on it when it is linked with the first commandment. “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40). This phrase, “Law and Prophets” refers to the whole Old Testament, as we can see in Luke 24:27, “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” This is an amazing statement. Here we have the authority of the Son of God telling us something utterly crucial about the origin and design of the entire plan and Word of God (pg. 249-250).”

“I think what he means is that when you see people love like that (fulfill the Golden Rule), what you are seeing is the visible expression of the aim of the Law and the Prophets. This behavior among people manifests openly and publicly and practically what the Old Testament is about. It fulfills the Law and the Prophets by making the aim visible. Loving God, however, is invisible. It is an internal passion of the soul. But it comes to expression when you love others. So loving others is the outward manifestation, the visible expression, the practical demonstration, and therefore the fulfillment of loving God and therefore of what the Old Testament is about… The Law and the Prophets are hanging on—depending on—something before them, namely, God’s passion that this world, this history of humankind, be a world of love to God and radical, other-oriented love to each other… I believe it would not be too much to say that all of creation and all the work of redemption, including the work of Christ as our suffering, dying, and rising Redeemer, and all of history, hang on these two great purposes: that humans love God with all their heart, and that from the overflow of that love we love each other. Which means that love is the origin (Matt. 22:40) and the goal (Matt. 7:12) of the Law and the Prophets. It is the beginning and the end of why God inspired the Bible. It’s the fountainhead and spring at the one end and the shoreless ocean at the other end of the river of redemptive history—remembered and promised in the Word of God. Surely God’s purpose is that we take this commandment with tremendous seriousness. It would be wise in this majestic context that we not assume we yet have seen the fullness of what love is or that it already has the centrality in our lives that it should. Jesus is saying: All of Scripture, all of his plans for history, hang on these two great purposes: that he be loved with all our heart, and that we love each other as we love ourselves (pg. 253-255).”


Pastor Josh

Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM  Leave a Comment  

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