Presentation on theme: "Presentation 40. Introduction Ask a hundred football fans to name the best footballer who has ever lived and you could easily get a hundred different."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction Ask a hundred football fans to name the best footballer who has ever lived and you could easily get a hundred different answers. And in each case you may discover that a sensible reason has been provided for their choice. We will always disagree over what the best of something because our own opinions are often based on very subjective judgments. And you will always find someone to disagree with your opinion and tell you why they do so. This was the subtlety behind the next question that was put to Jesus by an expert in religious law: ‘What is the greatest of all the commandments?’
Presentation 40 The Lawyer's Question The teachers of the law were responsible for interpreting the law and we read in Matt. 22v35 that this particular lawyer had come to trap Jesus. However, as he listened to Jesus’ reply something was happening inside him. He had begun to reassess his position and began to take Jesus seriously. He became a serious enquirer. This of course would not be the last time someone would come along to ridicule Jesus and end up being captivated by him. You may have heard of people who have gone along to church for a laugh and been soundly converted!
Presentation 40 Jesus' Answer: Love For God In order to understand Jesus’ reply we need to remind ourselves that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were preoccupied with accomplishment and not with relationship. They saw the law as a checklist. The more ticks they scored the more convinced they were that God was pleased with them. Christianity has often been presented in this erroneous manner – as a mere outward observance of a set of rules. Some try to describe Christianity in checklist terms: 'Christians don't drink, smoke, attend cinema, wear cosmetics, whistle on a Sunday...’ The more ticks that are attained the better pleased they were with themselves.
Presentation 40 Jesus' Answer: Love For God Some people foolishly try to reduce Christianity to rule-keeping. People outside of the Christian faith are understandably put off when it is defined as doing certain things and refraining from doing other things. The false conclusion which this approach encourages is that God’s favour can be earned by rule keeping. But in actual fact, God's principal concern is to call us into a vital love relationship with himself. The great passion of our lives is to be God himself - not a set of rules.
Presentation 40 Jesus' Answer: Love For God Of course once that relationship is established and the wonder of it begins to captivate our imagination, and warm our emotions and shape our wills, then we will ask a vitally important question. 'How can I please God?' And this is where the law comes into its own. The law, rightly understood, is an expression of God's character - and the Christian wants his life to increasingly reflect that character. Therefore, he keeps the law, not to earn enough points to be called a Christian, but because he wants to express his love for God who has lavished grace and mercy on him!
Presentation 40 Jesus' Answer: Love For God We need to bear this understanding of law in mind as we approach Jesus’ reply, which begins with a quotation from the book of Deuteronomy. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. Deut. 6v5 Jesus does not single out a particular commandment as the lawyer had hoped. Instead, he exhorts him to a wholehearted love for God. He is saying, 'The centre of your whole being should be directed towards God and his glory'. God must come first in your ambitions and motives.
Presentation 40 Jesus' Answer: Love For God 1.You are to love him with all your soul- so that your affections and emotions will be brought into tune with his will. 2.You are to love him with all your mind by giving your thought life over to him, seeking to keep your mind pure and to have your thinking regulated by his Word. 3.You are to love him with all of your strength and energy which are to be poured into this response to God. What a comprehensive expression of love for God this is and this is his expectation of us!
Presentation 40 Jesus' Answer: Love For God Augustine wrote, 'Love God and do what you like’. He recognised that if we truly love God in the way Jesus defines it, we will only want to please him. This willno casual relationship. A young couple had been out on their first date, the fellow’s parting remark was, 'Thanks for tonight, I'll probably call you sometime, maybe'. The girl must have thought she had simply filled up his social diary for the evening. Had he said, 'Can I see you next week, twice...? Then she is more likely to think, ‘He must be interested in me, perhaps this has the makings of a serious relationship’.
Presentation 40 Jesus' Answer: Love For God What sort of interest do we have in God? Is it a casual relationship which is a diary filler, an interest to be engaged in when we have nothing better to do? It is so easy to content ourselves with a moderate Christianity, but moderate Christianity is not found in the pages of the New Testament. Dare we reply to God's wholehearted love for us half-heartedly? C.H. Spurgeon made this telling observation: ‘A man's heart has only enough life in it to pursue one object fully’. Do we love God with all our hearts or does our spiritual passion need to be restored?
Presentation 40 Jesus’ Answer: Love For Our Neighbour Jesus indicate that love for God cannot be divorced from our love for our neighbour, 'Love your neighbour as yourself' v31. How do we do that? We are to love man who is made in the image of God. We come from different ethnic backgrounds, and have a different skin colour, social standing, personality type, and so on… But the one thing that binds men together is that we all share God’s image. To love ourselves is an expression of our love for the God in whose image we are made. This should motivate our love for others. Even when that image is disfigured be it a drunk lying in the gutter, or a woman on the street corner who’s been driven to prostitution. They have been made in God’s image. We can love the person without loving their behaviour.
Presentation 40 Jesus’ Answer: Love For Our Neighbour It is comparatively easy to love people who are loveable. People who are on our wavelength, who think as we do, who have likeable personalities. But what of people who rub us up the wrong way? What of those who are obnoxious and unlovely? We love them for what they were meant to be. How? There is only one answer. The man who has been transformed, magnetised by God's love will begin to behave in a way he would not have dreamed possible. Just as a pin cannot pick up another until it has first been picked up by a magnet so that the magnetism is transferred, so too, only when we are gripped, transformed and indwelt by God's love will we be able to behave to our neighbour as we ought.
Presentation 40 Jesus’ Answer: Love For Our Neighbour “The love that Christ commands is not easy, even for people who are blessed with great natural warmth of heart. And it is not impossible, even for those of us who tend to be crabby and short-tempered. For Christian love is not a vague feeling of affection for someone. It is rather a condition of the heart and will that causes us to seek the welfare of others - including people we don't particularly like, and even people who have done us wrong.” Louis Cassels
Presentation 40 The Lawyer's Response Love is not simply an affectionate feeling, but a striving for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be achieved. This is true love, to do the best we can for others. This is what God does for those he loves. He has done, THE BEST HE CAN. Love will ask much more of us than the law could ever require. True love can never say, ‘I have done enough. I have now fulfilled all my obligations’. Love is restless in the best sense of the word! Love drives us on. Love will asks us to walk many more miles than might be demanded by justice or law.
Presentation 40 The Lawyer's Response The lawyer was clearly impressed by Jesus’ reply. The expression 'well said' in v32 might read 'excellent'. It is an expression that contains both admiration and relief. Jesus’ words had satisfied the deepest longings of his soul, they had an undeniable ring of truth attached to them. Jesus had lifted human behaviour out of the petty legalism into which it had sunk. Here is a man whose understanding of life had been like an unsolved jig-saw puzzle. But Jesus had put the pieces together before his very eyes. So much so that a tremendous truth began to break upon his consciousness cf v33....
Presentation 40 The Lawyer's Response In other words mere mechanical legalistic acts of religious observance and law-keeping are no substitute for a heart religion. We can engage in a whole host of religious duties but these are meaningless if they are not prompted by a heart that is truly in love with God. Heartfelt obedience to the Lord is far more important than any religious ritual that leaves loving obedience outside. Jesus commended the man upon his grasp of spiritual truth and said, 'you are not far from the kingdom'. He was clearly standing on the threshold. We don't know if this man ever acknowledged Jesus as Saviour and not just a great teacher.
Presentation 40 Conclusion Do we understood what God expects of us? Are we eager to pursue a relationship of love rather than one of legalistic performance. Or, perhaps you are standing on the threshold of God’s kingdom. Access is gained, not through law-keeping, but through the gracious provision of God. God sent Jesus to be our Saviour. He came to die in our place and to bear the punishment of our sin upon the cross. You can enter into a personal, faith relationship with Jesus by repenting of your sin and by asking him to transform your life. He alone is able to empower you to love God as he deserves and to love others as he wishes?