I’m sure that most of my readers are familiar with Jesus’ declaration of the greatest commandment(s):
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And 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 22:35-40 ESV)
So, a lawyer asks Jesus which is the “great commandment”. Jesus replied with two: 1) Love God and 2) Love your neighbor. But, Jesus said that the second was like the first. Also, Jesus said that “all the Law and the Prophets” depend on “these two commandments”, not on one or the other, but on both.
As I was thinking about this recently, I wondered why Jesus gave the man two commandments. I mean, the man only asked for one, but Jesus gave him two. Why didn’t Jesus just give him one? Or, why didn’t Jesus give him three? What would have been the “third greatest commandment” according to Jesus?
When I read what people are saying about Jesus or about Christianity, it often seems that they think “the third greatest commandment” is more important than the first two that Jesus mentioned. What do I mean? Well, in books and teachings and blog posts and other means, people are often telling Christians what they must do to follow Jesus’ teachings. And, love is very rarely at the top of the list. Instead, it seems people like to focus on what they must consider to be Jesus’ “third greatest commandment”. You know, things like:
Study the Bible!
Join the church!
Give your money!
Homeschool your children!
Sign this covenant/confession!
Speak in tongues!
Sing worship songs!
Be involved in the programs of the church!
Read the right books!
Of course, there are others who prefer to focus on Jesus’ “third greatest commandment” as a prohibition or negative command:
Do not drink!
Do not curse!
Do not join THAT church!
Do not send your kids to public schools!
Do not speak in tongues!
Do not hang out with THOSE people!
Do not read THOSE books!
I guess I could go on and on. Now, some of these are very good things. But, Jesus didn’t list these among his great commandment list. Instead, Jesus stopped at two: 1) Love God and 2) Love your neighbor.
Why would Jesus stop with these two? Why did he not include other commands in his list? Are we wrong if we place alot of emphasis on love? Are we wrong if we don’t place alot emphasis on love?