September 2, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
A Crux is, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, “the essential or most important point.” Jesus declared what is The Crux Of Christianity in Mark 12:28-31 (see also Matthew 22:36-40; Luke 10:25-28):
…one of the scribes came, and…asked Him, “Which is the first command-
ment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments
is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall
love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all
your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
And the second like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
There are two commandments here, according to the Lord:
• The first is from Deuteronomy 6:4 and 5 – “Hear, O Israel. LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”
• The second is found in Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
Jesus simply put these two commandments together to form what is known as the Great Commandment, which is The Crux Of Christianity – “the essential or most important point.” But there are three parts to this Crux – loving God, loving your neighbor, and loving yourself! In this, and two following blogs, we will examine The Crux Of Christianity.
• The first part is “… you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” If you compare the Deuteronomy passage above with Mark 12:30, you will see that the former leaves out “… with all your mind….” I think this is because, in Hebrew thinking, the concept of the mind is included in the concept of the heart. The heart was much more to the ancient Jew than a blood-pumping organ, or associated just with feeling. The term included the whole of the inner man.
In Matthew’s version in chapter 22:37, “…all your strength…” (Mark 12:30) is left out. That may be because it is implied by the other three things mentioned – “…with all your heart…soul, and…mind….”
Whatever is included or left out, the question becomes, “Why should I so love God?” The Apostle John succinctly answered it this way in I John 4:19: “We love Him because He first loved us.” Just a few verses before, in I John 4:9 and 10, he wrote:
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His
only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. In this
is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be
the propitiation for our sins.
When we get this concept into our minds – that God loved us so much He voluntarily sacrificed Himself to the cruel torture and death of Calvary so we could be forgiven and reconciled to Him – then that will draw out our love to Him! (See John 3:16; 10:17, 18). And the more we understand His sacrifice, the more we will love Him!
Jesus pointed this out in the parable of the two debters found in Luke 7:40 through 47. Two men owed a lender money – one 500 silver coins and the other 50. “And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. ‘Tell me [Jesus asked], which of them will love him more?’ ” (verse 42). Simon, the Pharisee to whom the question was posed, answered correctly, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” (verse 43).
If you see yourself as a sinner because you once stole a pencil when in third grade, then – upon being forgiven – you will love the Lord ‘a pencil’s worth’! But if you know you “…have fallen short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23) in all areas of your life – because you are shot through and through with sin – then you will love Jesus more, a whole lot more!
By the way, I find it interesting that ‘Crux’ is the root word for crucifixion! And it was the crucifixion that is the basis of The Crux Of The Christian Life!
Also, don’t forget, according to John 14:15, to love Jesus is to obey Him, for He said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” John seconded that in I John 5:3: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” So go forth, loving and obeying the Lord, “…with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”