I am continuing with my thoughts on “Our Church, ” and today the subject is “Love People” Matthew’s gospel chapter 22, we will concentrate on verses 38-40. We will also spend some time in Luke’s gospel today. We will be in Luke 10 starting in verse 30.
Last week we talked a little about the greatest commandment. Jesus gave us this commandment right in the heart of the new testament. This Greatest commandment is in all three Synoptic gospels. Jesus tells us “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Our Lord told us that this is the greatest commandment. We are to put Him first. We pick up today with the second part of the great commandment.
Jesus continues His discourse in Matthew’s Gospel; we find verse 39 keeping His thought. “The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ” We are to love people. John Lennon and Paul Macartney wrote a song that proclaims “All we need is love.” I happen to agree with John and Paul. We need love. We live in a world that needs love. The Church that Jesus established needs to be known by its love. I want us to think about love for a minute. What does it mean to love? The other question that I would like for you to consider this morning is, who is our neighbor? One of the takeaways that I want us to realize is that the one thing both of these “greatest” commandments have in common is that they deal with love.
Last week we talked about repentance. I made the statement that we cannot truly love God without repentance. Repentance is recognizing the wrong in our lives. It is turning from sin and self and trusting a Savior. Repentance can only come after an individual honestly acknowledges God. The Bible teaches that it is by grace we are saved through faith. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, we did not do anything to deserve it, but he extends this grace, this love to us the moment that we believe. Even though we may not deserve it, God’s favor is extended to us as we repent and turn from our old way of life. The pharisaical law of the time squashed people; there was no way to live a righteous life, so the people lost heart and gave up. These pious men had come up with 631 laws. They had 365 prohibitions and 248 positive commandments. It was impossible for anyone (even the Pharisees) to keep the law. They wanted to enforce the law because it helped with their lifestyle. So what we had was law, without love.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that “4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror [e]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.”
Paul understood. Jesus wanted us to love God, and he wants us to love people. You may be the only Jesus that a person sees. We are to be imitators of Christ; people should be able to see Christ in us. The Holy Spirit works many times through people. We have to do our part, Love God, and Love People.
I told you in my last note that we are simplifying our mission statement here at the Point. I am using a tripod to describe our declaration. A tripod has three legs, last week we had the Love God leg, this week we have the love people leg of the tripod. The tripod brings stability to the body.
Let me give you some more background on these “greatest commandments.” Remember from last week? The Pharisees brought out the big guns. They brought this bright rising star Lawyer, this expert in the Mosaic law. And this guy crafts a question for the sole purpose of trapping Jesus. Remember, they wanted Jesus to cease and desist. Jesus responds with even bigger guns. He quotes from the Shema from the Old Testament. Jesus knew what they were trying to accomplish. The Shema is an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God. All of the Jews would have recognized this statement. The first line of the Shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”
The Shema reaffirms the fundamental tenets of the Jewish faith; it was not only important to communicate the Shema, the Jew’s felt is was as important to be able to hear what one is saying precisely. The Jew in the temple would have crisply communicated this statement. The Jews of Israel would stand to show the Shema’s importance and to demonstrate that saying, the Shema, is an act of testifying in God. Jesus answered the Lawyer’s question by communicating the Shema. Then He dropped the two new and greatest commandments. Jesus emphasizes this point in Matthew 22:40 where he states ” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
So we have to understand this morning that this was a pretty big deal. All of the Law’s, everything that the Prophets had brought over time, depended on these two great commandments. The Jew’s they had some laws; the problem was they could not keep the law. The law oppressed everyone one, and legalism reigned. But to be spiritually superior, or at least appear superior, the Pharisees and Sadducees controlled the people through these crushing and oppressive laws.
The Bible teaches “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” These great and foremost commandments symbolize the entire Mosaic Law. Had the Pharisee’s who were trying to trap Jesus realized this, they could have understood that each of them had fallen way short of the law also. They could have realized that they needed a Savior. Today, in the modern church. We have to recognize our need for a Savior. We need Jesus. He is the fulfillment of the Law. We are to Love God, and Love People
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells a story. This short sermonette is a particular story for the Pharisee’s and Sadducees. He wanted them to understand. Look at Luke 10 starting in verse 30
Luke 10:30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two [d]denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do [e]the same.”
Five people in the story and each individual has a significant part. First, we have the man, a Jew making a trip from Jericho to Jerusalem. This man symbolizes the Jewish people. An ordinary stiff working through life and trying to do what is right. He is making a trip; we do not know what for, but we do know that in the process of the journey, he is attacked and robbed and left for dead.
And by Chance, a Priest. Someone from the religious elite happens to be making the trek also. He sees the man, on the side of the road, he thinks about all that he has to accomplish, his schedule is tight, this guy is probably beyond help anyway. Since no one else is out there on the road with him, he goes to the other side and passes by without offering help or hope.
Likewise, there happens to be a Levite, one who was a keeper of the temple, someone that worked for the establishment. He is on his way and does not have time to help, so like the Priest, he passes by on the other side of the road.
Then a Samaritan, a non-Jew, someone that the Jews would have nothing to do with sees compassion for others, and goes out of his way to help the fallen man. He tends his wounds, gets a hotel, puts bandages and medicines on his injuries. He did not consider his schedule; he did the right thing. He even carried it a step further, instructing the innkeeper to nurse him back to full health and that on the return journey he would settle up the account.
The Samaritan gave the modern church a great example of what it looks like to help someone. I want the Church to remember, Jesus wants us to love our neighbor!
I love you all!