There is a lot of confusion within the Church about what Law is mandatory for Christians. And almost everyone seems to get it wrong!
So what Law should Christians obey? Is it the 10 Commandments? Or the laws of Moses? Most people say it’s basically this; Love your neighbor as yourself.
In both Mark and Matthew, as well as Luke people ask Jesus which the greatest commandment is. But we need to look at these verses to see where we get it all wrong!
So first is Mark 12:28-34 NIV :
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher.”
Then Matthew 22:34-40
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 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. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Last Luke 10:25-28
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
What is interesting here is that the context of the persons asking Jesus about all agree on His answer but Jesus never says the love thy neighbor as yourself is the greatest commandment, does he? It’s the second greatest! But to not offend anyone, it is kind of put into 1 commandment in Luke, so we both win, okay? 🙂
However, Christians are not in the law covenant, the Old Covenant with the Jewish People, christians are in the New Covenant and have nothing to do with the Law but everything with Grace.
So to answer which is the Greatest Commandment or actually the New Covenant Law it’s a bit different.
Jesus says in John 13:34
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
There is a difference here isn’t there? I mean first the whole love God with all you have is taken out of the equation.
Needless to say that Jesus say this right after His resurrection and moments before His ascension into Heaven, so it’s pretty clear that God is in the flesh, and He is not commanding hard effort to love Him!!! Jesus is showing here the contrast between how people had perceived God and His true nature. Amazing!
Second, love yourself is no longer a requirement in how you love others! And this is something we need to think about.
You can only love others in the quantity and quality of how you love yourself. This is true, simply because our mindsets and thoughts produce after our state of heart.
I think the whole love others as yourself part comes down to something like, if you are good to yourself, be good to others too. Don’t spend your money on expensive stuff to make you feel good IF you are not going to share the wealth with the less fortunate.
Now to cut to the chase, Jesus is commanding to love others. By demonstrating love for one another you are representing Jesus well.
I think the best part of it all is this;
When we are lacking self-love, which can happen to the best of us God knows, he is directs us to His love for us. If you are down, nothing will build you up more than to experience God’s love for you, even if you don’t love yourself (yet)! This will overflow and it will be easy to love others in the way He does.
The Greatest Commandment of the Law is no longer relevant because it has been replaced with the New Covenant Law, which is not; Love others as yourself but love others as I (God) love you!
Why this is important? Because anyone relying on the Old Covenant Law based answer will stay in that system of thought and behaviour and causes things as legalism and basically a death end, done away with, covenant.
Big difference, right? 😀