For the next few Sundays, we will begin a dissection of the Great Commandment. I’m calling this series, “Mega”. You’ll see why soon. This study is inspired by the study of the book of Romans we are doing on Wednesdays. Romans explains the riches of Christ and what happens to people when they cease to live to glorify Christ. This leads through the study of the Great Commandment so, here we go.
This teaching by Jesus begins with a question: what is the great commandment in the law? Obviously, the man who asked this question didn’t know much about the New Covenant since he asked about the law rather than faith, hope, or love. We who are on the resurrection side of Jesus’ life have an aversion to law. Law carries with it the idea of “legalism” or salvation by works, which we who know Romans and Galatians avoid like the plague. But, Jesus didn’t rebuke the man’s question regarding law because the law (knowledge of right and wrong) does have a purpose. Law doesn’t bring righteousness to the observer but does reveal sin.
After all, didn’t Jesus say that the true worshipers of God must worship Him in Spirit and truth? (John 4:24) Can we convict the Law of being untruthful? No, truth is necessary to worship God adequately, it is just not complete by itself. Now, back to the man’s question: what is the great commandment in the law? This word translates to “mega,” meaning primary, most important, and foundational.
Jesus answers by saying that the first in priority, the primary, most important, and foundational commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The Law states that the mega commandment is relational. So, the most important direction found in the Law is a direction to have a relationship with Jesus. It is not to “do something” or “not to do something” but to love – to be relational.
Now, can you successfully keep the Law or avoid sin if you neglect the primary, most important, foundational commandment? The rich young ruler found this out in Luke 18. Being right with God had nothing to do with being “good” because no one is. It had to do with loving God and prioritizing Him. Jesus gave the man a directive. If he loved the Lord, he would gladly follow it. His refusal revealed that even though he had kept the commandments, he had neglected the primary, most important, and foundational direction of the Law – therefore, revealing himself to be negligent in his love for God.
The Law teaches us that loving God is primary; the most important thing we can do. That it is foundational to everything godly. Jesus also said that there was another direction – another relational command that proved our love for God was real because it was totally dependent upon our love for God – you might say it was a byproduct of the great commandment or evidence of its existence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Can you truly love God without loving your neighbor? (1 John 4:20-21) God loves people. So, evidence of our love for God (being in relationship with Him) is to receive love for others. Jesus continued and said “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” The power received by keeping these two commandments causes the individual to be able to keep all the other commandments. All others are in place as a result of these two. They are kept by keeping these two. You can keep all the commandments by keeping these two and both are a relational – powered by love.
1 John 4:20-21
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