Have you ever heard someone cry out in frustration, “What does it all mean anyway?” At times, I think many believers ask that question when it comes to studying the scriptures and trying to grasp this life as a follower of Jesus. I meet people on a daily basis who are utterly confused about what it means to live a life that is pleasing to God. Some do their best to be obedient to God. Others do their best to accumulate as much biblical knowledge as they can, while others try to be as Christlike as possible. The list goes on.
How to be a Pharisee
Jesus ran across these same types of people in His day. I have no doubt they were sincere, but the truth is many people are sincerely wrong. To be a Pharisee, you had to memorize the first five books of the Bible known as the Torah. You had to pray nine to twelve hours a day and fast for two 24-hour periods in a week. They appeared pious and holy to the outside world, but Jesus called them hypocrites. In fact, He likened them to whitewashed graves filled with dead men’s bones. Not what I would call a ringing endorsement for their theology.
One of my hobbies is cooking; many recipes call for certain ingredients to be reduced. For example, if I needed a thick balsamic sauce, I would reduce balsamic vinegar by simmering it slowly over the stove until it reached the consistency I needed. This reduction technique intensifies the flavor of whatever is being reduced.
What it is all about
In the same way, Jesus took the entire Old Testament and reduced it to something that shocked the religious leaders, scribes, doctors of the law, and Pharisees. These religious people all thought they had a handle on what God’s Word meant and required from them. I can only imagine their reaction when Jesus told them what they had failed to see. Their jaws must have hit the floor.
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).
Jesus reveals another parallel truth about the Old Testament when a Pharisee asks Him a question, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36).
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40).
Love or Jesus?
But Ed, I thought Jesus said the entire Old Testament was about Him. Now, He says it is all about love. So what is it? There is no contradiction here my friends. Jesus is simply pointing out that He is love personified. The apostle John wrote that “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
“Jesus said, ‘When you see me you see the father’” (John 14:9).
Jesus declared that everything He said and did was only what He saw His Father say and do. Did Jesus have a secret video screen to see or ask God about what to say and do? No, but some people think He did. Jesus saw God’s will revealed in the scriptures He studied. That is why He knew what God would say and do in all situations. Jesus knew that God is love and the law was all about God’s will, which is love. This is why Jesus told Philip who asked Him to show us the Father, “When you see me, you see the Father.”
It all boils down to this
Jesus taught that everything Moses wrote, as well as all the prophets said, boiled down to loving God, ourselves, and others. The problem was no one could keep those laws. Yet, God never changes, neither does His goals and desires for humanity. So how is it possible for people to love God and others if they don’t have the ability to do it for themselves? The only way anyone can love as God does is to be loved by God. Jesus who fulfilled God’s law tells us how He was able to do it.
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (John 15:9).
This isn’t rocket science; Jesus reveals the source of His supernatural ability. He credits God’s love for enabling Him to love others. He goes on to tell the disciples to “continue in my love.” Why? Because Jesus knows the love He experienced from His Father would also empower and enable them to love as He did.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life”