Bible Readings for March 9th
When a lawyer asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, explaining that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. He then said, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40).
What that means is that those two commandments—that we must love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves—summarize the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments teach us how to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, while the last six commandments teach us how to love our neighbor as ourselves. All the rest of the law in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, then, is essentially a commentary not only on the Ten Commandments but also on those two commandments to love God and to love our neighbor.
Now, it is not as though the Old Testament law completely spells out each of our obligations before God. In fact, many of the laws function not as precise, all-encompassing definitions of how we ought to love God and our neighbors but instead as paradigmatic case law, giving us concrete examples so that we can understand the principles behind how God wants us to live.1 While we do not have enough laws to expressly cover every possible situation that might arise in our lives, we can confidently trust that we have received all things necessary for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). In the law, God gives us a glimpse of his own holiness, as well as a description of the holiness that he calls us to pursue.
But as we talked about in yesterday’s meditation, it is very important to see that the law is not at the foundation of Yahweh’s relationship with his people. Before he describes a single law—even before he insists that Israel have no other god before him—Yahweh reminds Israel that they are his people: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2).
As Christians, we don’t seek to follow the law to earn God’s grace but rather as a response to God’s grace. For the Christian, the law is not the means by which we earn God’s favor—Christ, through his death and resurrection, is the reason we are acceptable to God. We are saved by grace through faith, not by works (Eph. 2:8).
The law, then, represents what we were saved for—the good works “which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We were created—and we were saved—to love God and to love our neighbor, just as God has commanded.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.