BIBLE READING: Leviticus 18-20
In Matthew 22.35 a lawyer asked Jesus a question to test him, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” The Jews knew that it was impossible for them to be able to keep the whole Law in perfect detail, so some of them wanted to make sure they obeyed the most important ones. One might think it strange that someone would hold one part of the Law more important than the other aspects, yet we do the same thing today. How many of us consider it a big deal to drive 57 mph in a 55-mph speed zone? Most of us would not even give that a second thought, but it is still breaking the law. That is the way the Jews viewed the Law of Moses; some laws were just more important than the others. Jesus’ reply is what really threw the lawyer for a loop, “…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. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus’ answer just summed up the entire Law with two simple commandments. As we read that, we might feel that what Jesus said was revolutionary and groundbreaking, but it wasn’t. In fact, Jesus was only citing what His Father had commanded the Israelites in Leviticus 19. This chapter in Leviticus can be broken down into two separate sections. First, God tells Moses that He is Holy. This implies that if God is Holy, we should serve Him with all that we have as they would be instructed to do in Deuteronomy 6.4-5. The second part of Leviticus 19 discusses how the Israelites were to treat each other. In Leviticus 19.18, God commanded them to “love your neighbor as yourself…”. The verse even answers any naysayers who might ask why, because “…I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19.18). God has always wanted His people to be considerate of other people, because when we do that, we are illustrating a trait that He Himself has. The lawyer should not have been shocked at Jesus’ reply, nor should we. God wants us to see, that every person was created in His image. When we learn to respect that, we feel an obligation to look out for their interest over our own. In doing so, we follow His example of what He did for us.