September 4, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Since a Crux is, according to Webster, is “the essential or most important point,” The Crux Of Christianity is the most important point of our faith. As Jesus said in Matthew’s version – chapter 22:35 through 40 – “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40). It is Mark’s version that I have selected for these three blogs – Mark 12:28 through 31:
…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.”
These two commandments consist of three components, “…love the LORD your God…love your neighbor…[and love] yourself.” In our last blog, we dealt with the first – “…love the LORD your God….” Now let’s examine the second – “…love your neighbor….”
But let’s define what we mean by your neighbor. Our scripture is called the Great Commandment, and in Dr. Luke’s version recorded in Luke 10:25 through 28 (but recited by a certain lawyer instead of the Lord) it says in verse 29, “But he [the lawyer], wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ ” Jesus answered with the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30 through 37 – summarized here to save space.
A Jewish man was beaten, robbed and left to die on the Jericho Road Three men happened to come by – a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. But only the third one stopped to minister to the victim’s needs.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when
he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him and bandaged
his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and set him on his own animal, and
brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he
departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to
him, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again,
I will repay you.”
Samaritans were hated and avoided as half-breeds by the Jews! When traveling from Judah in the south to Galilee in the north – or vice versa – a Jewish travelers would usually take the longer route on the east side of the Jordan River to bypass the country of the despised Samaritans! In return, the Samaritans avoided contact with Jews!
But this man showed compassion and care for the Jew who had been robbed and beaten. And Jesus asked in Luke 10:36, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” The answer was obvious, and the lawyer replied, “He who showed mercy on him.” Here is the Lord’s lesson for all of us to learn – and that Jesus told him in verse 37: “Go and do likewise.”
Our neighbor is anyone who needs our compassion and assistance! And, as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, to love our neighbor means to provide that assistance out of genuine compassion! This is an intrinsic part of the Great Commandment!
Paul gives commentary on this in Romans 13:8-10. And it’s especially applicable to what Jesus said in Matthew 22:40 (mentioned above): “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Owe no one anything except to love one another; for he who loves another
has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit
adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not
bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other com-
mandment, all are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your
neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is
the fulfillment of the law.
James tells us the same in James 2:15 through 17:
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you
says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give
them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus
also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
And John, in I John 4:20 and 21, boldly ties together these two commandments that form the Great Commandment – “…love God…and…love your neighbor….”
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For he who
does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he
has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who
loves God must love his brother also.
So if you are going to fulfill the Great Commandment, Love God and love your neighbor! Otherwise you will be found a liar!
But there is still one more part to the Great Commandment, and we will cover that in the next blog.