This past week our church memorized 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.”
That last statement by Jesus is huge. HUGE! And it really caught my attention. “On these 2 commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Well, loving God is huge. We all know that. That is what all of this life is about. Verse 38 proves that “This is the great and first commandment.”
But I want to focus on the second one, Loving your neighbor. We need to realize that loving our neighbor is big, monumental, HUGE! Combine that command with the command to love God and Jesus says you are talking about the WHOLE MESSAGE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT! That is a big deal.
The command to love your neighbor originates from Leviticus 19:18. Then Jesus quotes it to the Rich Young Man in Matthew 19:19. Then He makes this statement in Matthew 22:36-40. Mark tells the same story in his gospel (mark 12). Luke states it emphatically in the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. And so we see that the huge, weighty command to “love your neighbor” is meaningful in the life of Jesus and His close followers Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Let’s look even further into the Word to see more.
Paul says in Romans 13:8-10 that “the one who loves another” is the one who is fulfilling the law. And he even directly quotes “love your neighbor” for further emphasis. Then later on, when writing to the Galatians (5:14), Paul says that “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” And so we see that the huge, weighty command to “love your neighbor” is meaningful in the life of Paul and those he is ministering to. Let’s look even further.
James writes in 2:8 that “if you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.” Wow! James just took it to another level. He calls this command “the royal law”.
So in regards to the command to love your neighbor as yourself. James calls it the royal law. Paul said it fulfills the whole law. Luke used it to illustrate true compassion in one of the most well-known parables in the Bible. Matthew and Mark both tell of Jesus combining it with the greatest commandment of all, to love God, and then stating that all of the Law and Prophets depend on these two. So, we need to embrace it. Not just know it. We need to embrace it. We need to become it. We need to become a people who hear this command and then work to obey it.
Let us Love Our Neighbors!