Once we settle the lordship issue in our life, that is, Jesus is going to sit on that throne of our life instead of our self, then the next logical question is, “What are we supposed to do?” An excellent question indeed. Part of the answer is found in a discourse between Jesus and a Pharisee lawyer in Matthew 22:34-40.
Jesus’ answer given in Matthew 22 must be viewed within the context of who is asking the question – the Pharisees. These characters show up often in the Gospel record and while given a bad rap, they did not begin that way, and not all of them were wicked.
This religious group of leaders began well. The Pharisees preserved the Old Testament and honestly attempted to keep it. Yes, they added many man-made laws to it, but their initial desire was to please God with how they lived. The root of this movement was a populist one and not anchored in the priests. The desire and intent of all the laws was to resist the increasing influence of pagan culture into the religious community. While God went to silence during the 400 years between the Testaments, it was the voice of the Pharisees that kept the nation together. Their beginning and intent is not so much different from many of ours.
By the time Jesus came to begin His earthly ministry, many of these men had drifted far away from their honorable beginnings. Over the years, the group became corrupt in politics, saturated in pride, and consumed with lust for money and power. The noble aspirations and beginnings had been replaced with the baseness of human sinfulness. Again, not much different that we can find in our day.
At the height of the religious corruption and rottenness, Jesus pronounces the seven woes found in Matthew 23 and they are not pretty. I will not develop them here, but read these seven woes later and feel the passion from our Lord regarding these men. The heart matters greatly to our Lord and these men had despised that truth reducing religion down to a ridged set of externals.
In Jesus’ answer to the question of which commandment is the greatest, the Pharisees were found condemned.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And 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 great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
Jesus’ call is to completeness – all love with our heart, soul, and mind. The Pharisees had substituted rules and regulations now to determine theirs (and everyone else’s) acceptability to God. These men had a comparative religion – how do I look compared to others type religion.
While how we live with others is important, comparison has nothing to do with how we walk with our Lord. Love means different things to different people – what one thinks are intimate gestures of love, another may not. What one enjoys someone else may endure. Sometimes it is a guessing game to figure out how to love people. God however, tells us exactly what He thinks and how He wants us to love Him! Loving God is not some emotional fleeting feeling, but our love of God is clearly demonstrated by how we obey Him. Consider these words from the Scriptures:
John 14:15 – If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14: 21 -Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
John 15:14 -You are My friends if you do what I command you.
Luke 6:46 – Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
1 John 5:3 – For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments…
1 John 2:4 – Whoever says, “I know Him” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…
There is nothing vague or hard to understand in these verses. Jesus, and those that were with Him, present this truth – if we say we love God, we must walk in obedience to His revealed commands. If we do not, we are a liar and are not loving God the way He requires.
Terms like: Lordship, bondslaves, servants, King, Master, & disciple, all imply and entail a walk of obedience to someone. Are we? Will we? The Kingdom of God is not a democracy but a divine dictatorship – one Lord and Master to be obeyed!
Jesus’ answer to the wily lawyer is still applicable to us today. Will we choose to love God with all we are? Will we choose to love Him in the manner He wishes to be loved? God equates love with obedience, do we? The ancient prophet Samuel told a rebellious king Saul that to obey is better than sacrifice. Saul missed it and so did the Pharisees. So can we if we are not careful. If we substitute rules, rituals, and human endeavor for walking in obedience to God’s revealed will, we are simply a Pharisee and not loving God the way He wants.
What do we do as a disciple? We learn to love our Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We walk in obedience to His revealed commandments in the Scripture. How do we know we are doing this? Stay tuned for the next article.