Posted by: dhkrause | March 17, 2014

The Most Important Command

Jesus was asked in Mark 12 which command is the most important of all:

 29 “This is the most important,” Jesus answered:
Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
31 “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other command greater than these.”

The statement, “the Lord is One” in the Hebrew means that
“His character is in unity, His attributes and being, work together in unity.”
(Jeff A. Benner, “His Name is One”, pp. 16-17)

For example, God demonstrated both His righteousness and His faithful love by sending His Son to die for the sins of the world so that whoever believes in Him can have eternal life:

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son,
so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16)

At the cross, Jesus Christ answered the prayer, and fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 95:

Show us Your faithful love, Lord, and give us Your salvation.
10 Faithful love and truth will join together; righteousness and peace will embrace.

Loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, you will be able to pass the test that our first ancestors failed in the Garden of Eden.  The voice of God’s enemy convinced Eve that the tree He had warned them not to eat from “was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom.”

Jesus describes this deceiving spirit in John 8:44: “He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.”  Jesus contrasts the mission of this adversary with his own mission in John 10:10:
“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”  By staying focused on our love relationship with God, we are not vulnerable to the deceptions of the enemy.

At the last supper with his disciples, Jesus raised the standard yet higher with the command, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  This is a higher standard than “love your neighbor as yourself”, because we do not love ourselves as much as He loves each of us!  By our unfeigned love for one another people will know that we are his disciples:

 John 13
34 “I give you a new command: Love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.
35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As part of this higher calling of love, Jesus also tells his followers to love and pray for their enemies:

Matthew 5
43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Here is an example of this kind of love in action:

(CNN) — A widow says she forgives the attackers in Libya who gunned down her husband earlier this month as he went for a morning jog outside his home in Benghazi.

Ronnie Smith, 33, was a chemistry teacher from Austin, Texas, who was working for more than a year in the International School Benghazi when four unidentified assailants in a black Jeep fatally shot him December 5, 2013.

Anita Smith said she didn’t feel any anger or want any revenge against the killers of her husband.  “I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them, and Ronnie would want this, and I hope and pray that our son, Hosea, would believe this,” she said.

To the attackers, she wrote: “I love you and I forgive you.”

Ronnie Smith

To the Libyan people, she said, “We came to bless you,
but you have blessed us much more. Thank you.”

“I hear people speaking with hate, anger and blame over Ronnie’s death, but that’s not what Ronnie would want,” Smith wrote of her husband. “I want all of you — all of the people of Libya — to know I am praying for the peace and prosperity of Libya. May Ronnie’s blood, shed on Libyan soil, encourage peace and reconciliation between the Libyan people and God.”

God is looking for people who will love Him more than life itself.  That is how Jesus loved us, and He gives us power to love in this same way.

Matthew 10
37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.
39 Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it.

Those whose lives are completely given to Jesus will go wherever he leads, whether or not this results in actual martyrdom.  He said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20)

David Krause,,
(Bible Quotations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)

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