“On Your Mark”
The Obedience of Love (Chapter 12 Verses 28-34)
The second one (v31). Love for your neighbour. We all love ourselves, probably too much, but in the same way you must love your neighbour. No you might not even like the person, they may be even quite nasty, noisy and immoral, but you can love them. I mean you would want yourself to be free of anything that is morally wrong, or harmful. Well, wish the same for your neighbour. This neighbour may not like your Christian faith, your Bible or belief in it, or may even be someone whose faith runs contrary to your own, but this quality love demanded by the second command will put this neighbour’s best interests first. The Scribe here applauds Jesus (v32), he agrees and reiterates Jesus’ excellent answer (v33), and declares love to be supreme over the whole sacrificial system. But, it is not mockery, he says it with a whole-heartedness, with genuine warmth, with a sense of gratitude.
It is difficult, impossible, for sinful people to understand God’s love, with their guilty consciences accusing them, knowing really they are enemies of God, with all the moral deficiencies too, how can they be loved? Yet the entire Bible is a revelation of God’s love for his people, sinful though they may be. We must believe, trust in his love for us. He declares it and so we must avail ourselves of it, in and through Jesus, receiving it in all its fullness. And the more and more we do so, the more and more we become conformed to the likeness of God’s Son, Jesus, and the more we are like him the more God loves us. We need to bring ourselves to the obedience of love for Him, and it will grow, set your will to love him and the feelings will follow. A loving trust that sets the Christian free from man-made rules, a love that brings freedom of worship, praise, and enjoyment. To know him is to love him, and to know him better is to love him more. Jesus urges this man closer to the Kingdom (v34), if only he would understand that he had not loved as God’s Law commanded, and bowed humbly in contrition before the One Lord of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6.4-6), grasping the gracious, loving gospel content there too. That same Lord would purify him, set him free, and usher him into that everlasting Kingdom of grace and love. No one could withstand Jesus (v34b), he had crushed those coming with evil intent, and drawn the one man who was sincere and honest. Jesus never rebuts sincerity (John 6.37).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)