It’s been called “Busy Tuesday”. So much is written in the gospels about what Jesus did on Tuesday it’s hard to know what to choose to reflect on.
As soon as Jesus entered the temple courts, the chief priests and elders questioned His authority. (No doubt they were sore about Jesus cleansing the temple the previous day.) Jesus spoke many parables, and many of them were directed against these religious leaders. They wanted to arrest Him on the spot, but they feared the crowds.
One of the Pharisees, a lawyer, posed a question to Jesus designed to test Him.
“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 22:36–40, NKJV)
This just shows us how God can take something intended for evil and use it for good. We would never have known which two commandments (out of 613) were the most important had this Pharisee not tried to trip up Jesus.
Let’s consider Jesus’ response. The Pharisees had made a career out of “majoring in the minors.” I see the same thing today in religious circles. Even born-again believers can become so focused on minutia that they lose sight of the main thing. We become critical and argue over the smallest details. I have heard of church splits that have occurred because people couldn’t agree on the color of the carpet!
Is this our Lord’s desire for His church?
Hardly. In John 17, Jesus prayed that we would be one as He is one with the Father. But even more important is Christ’s commandment to love. If our foremost ambition is to love God and love people, think of how many argumentative traps we can avoid! Don’t get me wrong–there is a time to fight hard for what we believe. But what does our precious cause have to do with loving God better? What does it have to do with loving our neighbor as we love ourselves? It doesn’t matter where our neighbor lives or what he believes in. Whether our neighbor lives in China or Chattanooga…whether he calls himself Christian or Mormon…whether he votes blue or red…Jesus made it clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan that our neighbor is the one we see who is in need (Luke 10:29-37). Loving my neighbor as I love myself means that I demonstrate mercy to him or her in tangible ways.
Imagine what might happen if everyone were to practice this. Each day when we wake up we pray, “God, help me to love you more, and love others just as I love myself.” Then, by God’s inexhaustible grace, we just do it!
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