On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28. NIV
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18 NIV
Last week we focused on the Matthew account of the Greatest Commandment. This week we will be looking at the Luke account. In Luke, the interaction between the teacher of the Law and Jesus begins with a question. “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” Luke 10:25. Jesus, as he often did, replied with a question of his own. “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?,” Luke 10:26. It is in response to Jesus’ question that the teacher of the law gives the “correct” answer. “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” Luke 10:27.
The teacher of the law quotes the Shema which are two quotations from the Old Testament. One is Deuteronomy 6:5 and the other is Leviticus 19:18. “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live,” Luke 10:28. But the original question the teacher of the law asked was, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25b. Did Jesus answer his question? How would you explain eternal life to another? What does it mean to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength?
Often, we say this quickly and move on. But this statement requires commitment, complete devotion, surrender of our agenda to God’s plan. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is easy when it involves planning a birthday party for a best friend. But the story Jesus shares about a Samaritan who found a beaten and nearly dead man along a dangerous stretch of road, is entirely another matter. Jesus requires complete devotion to Him, nothing can have precedence above our loyalty to God. He also requires us to love people, regardless of how we may feel about those people personally. This is not easy to do. But, if we pray, seek God, ask Him for His Spirit to reveal to us how we can better love our neighbor, He will be faithful to reveal that to us. Listen to His leading, read His Word, respond to the Spirit’s prompting to love others as He wants you to love.
By Grace Hunter