BIBLE STUDY LESSON # 39...AUGUST, 22 , 2010
"The Three Commandments of Christ
Fulfilling Jesus’ Mission on Earth
Part II: "The Two Greatest Commandments"
Luke 4:14-21Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. Andwhen He had opened the book, He found the place where it is written: “the Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Last week we looked at Christ’s mission statement and adopting it as our own. This week we will be looking at the two “greatest commandments” and how they are to help us achieve the fulfillment of Christ’s mission.
When Christ came to earth as a human, He was on a mission to provide an example to the world on how to live a life pleasing and acceptable to God. However, as God in flesh, He also came with the authority to command us concerning the living of such a life devoted to pleasing God.
John 10:10b “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Jesus said that He came to bring a more abundant life to God’s children and through His commands He set forth these two commandments that would take priority over all others- love God completely and love all others unconditionally.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Matthew 22:34-40 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Wanting only to trap Jesus with His own words and beliefs, the Pharisees opened up a discussion they probably wished they had never broached. As staunch (?) followers of the commandments, they asked Jesus which was the greatest. However, knowing their ulterior motive, Jesus not only gave them one answer, He gave them two.
Recalling the words of Moses as he first presented The Ten Commandments, Jesus said that the first and greatest of the commandments was to love God completely (with heart, soul, and mind). Jesus wanted the Pharisees to understand that they must first love God completely not with some proud pretense of service. While the Pharisees were prideful in their observance of the laws, Jesus was challenging them to look into their hearts and souls thus developing a deeper understanding of what the laws were actually saying.
Taking His answer to the Pharisees one step further, Jesus said that we were to love everyone unconditionally (our neighbors as ourselves). But, who are our neighbors? In the Sermon on the Mount and the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was telling us that everyone, including our enemies, is our neighbor. Just as He would model this love so perfectly throughout His ministry on earth, Jesus wanted us to be compassionate toward everyone we encounter; always willing to help those in need even if they have done us harm in the past. What a wonderful concept! And, not one the Pharisees really wanted to even imagine, let alone obey.
Matthew 19:16-22 And, behold, one came and said unto him, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” And he said unto him, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” He saith unto him, “Which?" Jesus said, “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The young man saith unto him, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Why is it that we, like the rich young man, feel that we have to do good things to have eternal life? Why do we feel we need to know which of the commandments to obey?
Just as Jesus led the rich young man to examine himself, Jesus is leading us to examine ourselves.
In answer to his question, Jesus first told the young man to follow all the commandments. After he has assured Jesus that he has kept all the commandments Christ listed (even the one about loving his neighbor as himself), the young man is astonished to learn that he is still lacking. Testing his true love for his neighbors, Jesus then tells him to sell all he has, give it to the poor, and follow Him. Unfortunately, the young man loved his wealth more than he loved his neighbors as he sadly turned away knowing that he couldn’t or was unwilling to meet the conditions laid out for him by Jesus.
What about us? Are we more prideful in our religion as opposed to the lifestyle Christ so perfectly modeled for us? Do we really follow God’s commands completely? Is God number one in our daily lives? Do we truly love everyone unconditionally? Does our lives hinge on these two commandments? Can we do more? Are we Kingdom ready?
Unlike many leaders today, Jesus did not place an overburdening number of commands for His followers to observe. However, He does expect us to obey those He has given us. Certainly, He has not given us any commands that He, himself, did not obey completely. Likewise, He has not given us these commands without also providing us with His strength thus enabling us to fully obey them.
Love God completely and love everyone unconditionally. These are the two greatest commandments and the foundation for Christ’s and our mission here on earth.
Are we fully committed to obey God’s commands? Does He have top priority in our lives? Are we showing His love to our neighbors in a way that is appealing to Him?
As we ponder these two commandments, let us ask ourselves the toughest question of all:
If Jesus was so willing to give up the glory and splendor of Heaven to come to earth as a homeless man and die a horrible death out of love for us, are we as willing to give up our homes, jobs, and security to follow Him?
Or, are we to be like the rich young man and sadly lack the things needed to have eternal life.
The choice is ours; obey or disobey. Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we come to You asking that you instill within our hearts, souls, and minds the desire to obey your every command. LORD, help us to love and love unconditionally all of Your children. Give us the strength to accomplish Jesus’ mission here on earth. In Your Holy Name, we so pray. Amen
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