Q. Can you Please Explain Jesus’ Estimate of the Law?
A. Matthew records Jesus’ response regarding his estimate of the Law as follows.
Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, 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,” Matthew 22:35-40.
Jesus not only gave us the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai and summarized their all encompassing expression of Godly love in His inaugural Sermon on the Mount, but also lived an exemplary life in full compliance with the broad intent of the law. And yes, He came down very hard on those leaders of His day that obeyed the very minutest detail of the law, but were completely oblivious to its real meaning. (Please read Matthew chapter 23 to obtain a sense of Jesus response to the hypocrisy of the times.)
The Ten Commandments are sometimes described as the very least expression of what real love looks like. Please permit me to illustrate. Absolute zero represents the complete absence of heat, but there appears to be no limit to how hot something can be. Standing still represents the complete absence of movement, but we have no idea how fast movement can occur. Everyone understands pitch black darkness as the total absence of light, but again, we have no idea how light something might be.
In the Bible, Love is often likened to light. So it is that The Ten Commandments represent the absolute lowest limit of the conformity to God’s Constitution of Love. Anything less would not be love. But what is most interesting is the fact that, as with light, there seems to be no upper limit in our expression of love, either to God or to man.
Have you ever wondered what our world might be like if everyone lived and expressed even the very lowermost limit of Godly love? Can you imagine such a place? But suppose the expression of our love for God and for one another had no upper limits. What might it look like? Perhaps it would be something like a couple of young lovers that spend hours, days or months planning ways to please their partner, hardly able to wait the day when they may reveal the gift.
King David of Bible times certainly had his problems, but though prevented from building a magnificent temple to glorify his God and make His name known “throughout all countries” he spared nothing in making preparations for the most beautiful edifice possible – to be built by Solomon his son after his death. (1 Chronicles 22:2-10) Such was the example of one who truly loved his God.
God himself, of course, has given us the most perfect example of love. When in the person of Jesus He left heaven to come to earth to live as a man, subject himself to the temptations of Satan for our sakes, and die at our hands in our place, God gave us the ultimate expression of infinite love – love that has no upper limit.
What would our world look like if God were the most loved, admired and reverenced object in our personal and collective lives – no other “gods” taking His place? We wouldn’t be making images or idols to worship – if we loved God. We certainly wouldn’t use His name lightly (in vain) as in expletives, nor would we presume to call ourselves Christian without living a fully committed Christian life. Finally, if we truly loved our God, nothing could keep us away from our appointment with Him each and every Sabbath day. But for sure, we would be changed people if we were to love and show that love to our God, for His love in turn would “rub off” on us just by virtue of spending so much quality time with Him.
How would our world society be different if we truly loved our neighbor (everyone else!) with the same love and concern we have for ourselves? How would our parents fare if we truly loved and cared for them – respected them in their younger years, and honored them when old?
Of course there would be no desire to kill another if we truly loved with God-like love, and certainly there would be no murder, either in thought or deed. If we truly loved one another, there would be little temptation to steal for none would lack any necessary thing, each one lovingly sharing with his neighbor.
Would a man lust for another woman if he truly loved his wife and she loved him? Would any person even consider adulterous relationships he/she truly loved and respected other people?
And why would we lie, deceive or bare false witness about a neighbor whom we loved and cherished, no matter where in the world he lived, the language he spoke, or the color of his skin? In such a world, with everyone loving everyone else and sharing one’s blessings, there would be no reason to covet anything someone else might possess.
It is difficult for us “earthlings” to even imagine such a place or environment, but wouldn’t it be great? Who could not desire such a place? Yet, this is exactly what God desires for each one of us. This is the intent of His Law or Love, the Ten Commandments – Constitution of the universe.