- Why did Jesus have to come?
- What does His life, death and resurrection mean?
- What does it mean to confess Jesus a Savior and Lord?
Many people, both Christians and non-Christians, answers these questions quite differently. Some believe that Jesus came to simply give us the framework for a better was to live. Or that He was nothing more than a good moral leader or a wise social justice warrior. They formulate this view through what He stated in the second half of Matthew 22:38, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But you cannot fully understand what Jesus was teaching by taking this statement out of its context. This statement is actually contingent upon what Jesus said one and a half verses earlier, and what He points to in verse 40. Here is the full context.
Matthew 22:34-40 –
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees [by answering their trick questions with wisdom], they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 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. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
If you are reading carefully, you will see that the “love your neighbor as yourself” part is contingent upon the earlier statement of “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. Jesus even calls this part “the great and first commandment”. Simply broken down, it is impossible to love your neighbor as yourself if you do not first love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Jesus framed His statement this way because our love for others must emanate from our love for and allegiance to God. When this is the case, we will automatically extend to others a greater love; a selfless love, a sacrificial love. But the opposite is also true; if we do not love God first, with all our being, we will only love each other with a selfish love; a contingent love; a worldly love.
So I ask you this day, which love do you want to be loved with? The answer is clear; we want the godly love because this is truly the greater love. Given this reality, Jesus was not pointing to a worldly, social justice principal. Rather He was pointing people to a life of spiritual transformation that only His gospel (good news) can offer. Jesus also taught that it is only through belief in Him that we could ever approach God in order to develop this relationship of a greater love. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through me.” So if you’re following the logic carefully, then loving your neighbor as yourself begins with coming to know Jesus as Savior and Lord first. After-which, your love for Jesus will lead you to love God with all your being and from this, you will naturally extend to your neighbor a greater, selfless love.
Finally, Jesus what Jesus is teaching in verse 40 is that what He just stated has always been the case as written in the law (Deuteronomy 6:5 and 10:7) and the prophets (Isaiah 29:13-14). In other words, this is no new teaching; this has and will always be the case. So the question then becomes, do you know Jesus as Savior and Lord? Everything else in your life hangs on this one question.
To answer this question, I want to lead you through this week’s family devotional. As you go throughout this week, please take your time and read the Bible verses associated with each teaching. If you have any questions, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My prayer is that during this week you would develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the life and mission of Jesus Christ and the word of God that He upheld and points all of us to.
If you find this devotional helpful and edifying, please leave a comment below so that others can be edified and encouraged.
Monday & Tuesday
In order to have a right understanding of the mission of Jesus and the salvation He offers, we must understand His eternal sacrifice from a Biblical prospective. To help frame our thoughts, it’s important to ask ourselves three critical questions:
1. How am I saved?
2. What am I saved from?
3. What am I saved for?
So, how are we saved? Some would say that we are saved by forgiving ourselves of old mistakes, or, we are saved by a faith that produces positive thoughts and energy which leads to health and prosperity. But the Scriptures speak of none of this. The Biblical truth is that we are saved by coming to the realization that we are sinners in the sight of God and that there is no way that we can pay our sin debt in full, on our own. We are saved by grace through faith in the only Son of God – Jesus Christ, who loved us and offered His life on the wrath-absorbing cross to save ours – eternally. Read and meditate on Ephesians 2:1-10. Write down your thoughts and pray about them to God.
Wednesday & Thursday
The next question we must ask ourselves is, what am I saved from? Many people have a hard time with this question because they find it hard to think of God as a wrathful God, or, themselves as deserving of God’s wrath. This mindset conjures up that we are saved from self-destructive negativity, or that we are saved from ignoring that God exists. Yet once again, the Scriptures tell a different story. The Scriptures teach us that we are saved from a Holy God who has the unhindered right to pour out His wrath, full strength, upon every human that has sinned against Him and disgraced His glory. But please note that God’s wrath is not like ours. Our wrath can and usually is, unholy in that it is dispensed disproportionately. God’s wrath on the other hand is dispensed in holiness. In other words, God will give to each person what the consequences of their sins deserve; nothing more, nothing less. Read and meditate on Romans chapter 1. Write down your thoughts and pray about them to God.
Finally, the last question we must ask ourselves is, what am I saved for? A worldly view would answer this question with something like this; I am saved for a life of self-confidence, or financial freedom. Some would go as far as to say, I am saved for a better relationship with others that I encounter throughout my life. These answers are nice on the surface, but the one thing they lack is the glory of God through the transforming power of the gospel.
The Bible teaches that we are saved first and foremost for the glory of God in Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by first humbling ourselves under Jesus’ Lordship and then by working with His Holy Spirit to aligning our minds with the teachings of the Bible, all the while seeking to be conformed, more and more, to the image of Christ as we share and spread His gospel. Read Galatians 2:20, 1 Peter 3:15,16 and Matthew 28:18-20. Write down your thoughts and pray about them to God.
I hope this devotional has caused you to reflect deeply upon the great gift of salvation that we have been given. May there be a new awakening in the people of Christ, and may we take a stronger stand with Him as we live out our lives.