How have we missed the inseparable connection between love and law?
A lawyer, listening to Jesus teach, was amazed at the wisdom and sagacity. He decided to test Jesus further with a "gotcha" question. "Teacher," he began, "which is the great commandment of the law?" Jesus' answer silenced the duplicitous advocate.
"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40).
Most seem to read Jesus' response to the lawyer and then quickly jump to the teaching He gave the disciples on the night he was betrayed. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).
Indeed, there is a direct correlation.
The emphasis for most is love. We are to love as Jesus loves. Without question that is true. Have you overlooked the other point Jesus was making? When a disciple of Jesus Christ loves as He loves, they also keep all of the law and the commandments. "If you love Me," Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
If you love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself, you will also love His law and His commandments. Jesus Himself connected these dots. "I am giving you a new commandment," He said. He didn't say I am taking away the old ones.
According to Him, there are now 11 commandments.
Read again the lawyer's question, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus answered, "This is the first and great commandment." To His disciples, He said, "A new commandment I give to you."
It was not removal and replacement. Jesus was giving greater emphasis to loving and keeping the law of God.
Further confirmation is given by His Sermon on the Mount. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one dot or one mark will pass from the law until all be fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no way enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:17-20).
Two times Jesus said in this sermon, "You have heard it was said by them of old," then He quoted one of the Ten Commandments. One time He said, "Furthermore, it has been said," and He quoted Moses regarding divorce.
He was not removing the commandments, but setting a higher standard; a righteousness that would exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. It is a righteousness that flows from loving God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. You love so you obey His law and His commandments.
You love them because you love Him!
Jesus gave a profound teaching as He closed the Sermon on the Mount. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?' But then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil'" (Matt. 7:21-23).
Those who refuse to love the law of God and live in obedience to His commandments cannot expect to live in the kingdom of God. No matter how much they profess their love and do great works in His Name, He will not accept them into His kingdom.
This is understandable. The law of God is the governing rule of His Kingdom, just as nations have laws and ordinances that are the governing rule.
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