On these two…

On these two…

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 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 greatest and first commandment. And a 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

We have read this passage before. I have preached some version of this message most of my adult life. We pay a lot of attention to the loving God part, and we pay attention to the loving our neighbor part, but have you given much thought to what Jesus meant when he said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets?”

In the most literal sense, I think we have some idea. Jesus is telling them that, without these two commandments being followed, the Hebrew scriptures are meaningless; they fall apart. For us though, people who are a couple of millennia removed from understanding the significance of this to the Jews, something gets lost.

For the Jews, in particular the lawyers and scholars who are questioning Jesus, their entire society is built on the law and the prophets. Their sleeping and waking are consumed with it. Their courts make their judgments in accordance with it. Their social status is defined by it. Culture, healthcare, diet, art, justice, all of it, is based on the law and the prophets. Their peace with God, their hope for deliverance, was tied directly to their living in accordance with the law and the prophets.

So an equivalent for us might be to say that all of our peace and hope hang on our ability to love God with all that we have and all that we are, and our ability to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Thinking of it that way can shed some light on the state in which we find our world.

I am certain that even the most devout among us, given a little thought, will discover that there is something, somewhere, in our lives that holds a higher place in our lives than God. And it wouldn’t take much contemplation at all to see where we have failed to love our neighbors.

Peace in our time, in any time, depends on our ability to love God and neighbor. We may never be able to love perfectly, but we should still make the effort. Until that becomes our goal, until we work to live that love, there will be no end to the conflict and strife in our world.

Keep hanging on,
Pastor Mike

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