Hi there and welcome to Devotional Moments. At Reedy we are going through the three letters of the Apostle John, and we have been trying to learn a new memory verse each week. This week’s memory verse is from 1 John 4:7, “let us love one another, for love comes from God...” (1 John 4:7 NIV). John wrote extensively to these churches about loving God and loving one another. It is not only one of the main measures of Christian maturity, but also the greatest command given by our Lord Jesus. Let’s look a bit deep at this command.
In Mark 12 verse 28 a teacher of the law overheard another group of religious leaders known as the Sadducees debating with Jesus. Now this Teacher of the Law was impressed with Jesus’ answers and so he wanted to dialogue with Jesus. Anyone who knows a good philosopher or theologian or academic knows they like to wrestle through issues that relate to their field. It’s not that they are trying to be painful. It’s just who they are. Some of us couldn’t really care less but they do. And so, it appears that this teacher of the law wanted to dialogue with Jesus.
As you would know there are the original Ten Commandments that God gave His people to follow. What happened in time is that the law makers had developed 613 laws. Some religious leaders tried to distinguish between major and minor laws, and some taught that all laws were equally binding and that it was dangerous to make any distinctions. And so, when the teacher of the law asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" (Mark 12:28 NIV), I wonder if he had this challenge in mind?
The answer given by Jesus was amazing. In recognizing the Law and its history Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NIV). Here Jesus confirms the foundational truth of the Shema which was used as the call to worship in the Jewish synagogue. From this basic premise, Jesus proceeds to the principle revealed in Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV). These are the words which are written on the doorpost of every Jewish home. It is a practice that can be found on many Jewish homes today (Mezuzah).
Jesus then applies this teaching by matching it with the commandment in Leviticus 19:18, “…love your neighbor as yourself…” (Leviticus 19:18 NIV). Amazingly Jesus summed up the Law, the prophets, and the gospel so that He can say, “…There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31 NIV). Jesus’ answer of loving God and one another summarises the entire Ten Commandments. The first part summarizes the first four commandments, which has to do with our love for God (Exodus 20:2-11). The second part of Jesus' answer summarizes the final six, which have to do with our love for humanity (Exodus 20:12-17). This teaching had a powerful impact on the subsequent teaching of the Early Church such as John who also wrote in chapter 4, “Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21).
As a follower of Jesus, we love God, and we love one another. That’s who we are. In Paul’s letters, he spells out what this love looks like. It’s not easy to love others, particularly to those who have wronged or hurt us. We need God’s help.
Let’s Pray. Dear God. Thank you that you first loved us and sent Your Son Jesus to die for our sins. What an incredible act of love. Help us to fulfil Your command to love all people. Empower us with the Fruit of the Spirit. May the world know You through our love for one another. In Christ name. Amen.