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Anyone who asks Jesus a question—especially a loaded one—should prepare to get more of an answer than he bargained for.

A lot more.

One afternoon Jesus’ opponents sought to get Him in hot water with the Roman authorities. So they asked Him whether a pious Jew should pay taxes to Caesar. When Jesus’ answer dumbfounded them, other challengers in the crowd asked a question they considered much tougher. And when His brilliant answer silenced them, still other skittish observers said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.” At that point the gospel writer Luke adds—I’m guessing with a twinkle in his eye—“after that they dared not question Him anymore” (See Luke 20:20-40).

As I said, when you ask Jesus a question, get prepared for a surprising answer!

That certainly happened the day a lawyer asked Him to name “the first commandment.” Without hesitation, Jesus gave the expected answer: “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” (Mark 12:29-30).

So far, so good. I’m sure a lot of heads in the audience nodded in approval. But then came the “more-than-you-bargained-for” part.

And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:31).

A second commandment like the first? Nobody had asked Jesus about this! Still, He gave it to them anyway. And then to top things off, He made it clear that these two commandments were really just different sides of the same, single commandment. “There is no other commandment”—singular—“greater than these,” Jesus insisted.

Jesus immediately tied love of one’s neighbor to love for God. The two actions are inseparable. Love for God has to come first, but love for neighbors must follow. You cannot love God without subsequently loving your neighbor, and you cannot love your neighbor without first loving God.

The apostle John later wrote, “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). The heart of the Christian gospel is love—God loving you, you loving God supremely, and you loving your neighbor as yourself. That’s the heart and the essence of the Christian message.

Our heavenly Father calls you and me to so love Him and one another that we might clearly demonstrate what true Christianity is all about. Even the Pharisees and scribes had a hard time acknowledging this truth. The question Jesus asks us today is: If we say we love God, are we also showing love to our brother?

Never has the world more desperately needed such a demonstration. What too often passes itself off as Christianity today is only another form of hollow religion, woefully lacking in love. God calls us to love as He loves—and that’s not something we can conjure up within ourselves. It will happen only as we ask Him to plant His love in our hearts. Only then will we love as He loves.

– excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith

continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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