Bible Text: Matthew 22:34-46 | Preacher: Rev. Mark Buetow | Series: 2015
It’s always about us. “So, Jesus, which is it? Which is the great commandment in the Law? There’s lots of commandments but which one is the most important? Which one do I need to make sure I’m keeping better than all the rest?” Easy. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and your mind. Awesome! I totally do that. Don’t you? Who here wouldn’t raise their hand if I asked, “Does anyone here love God?” But do you love Him with your WHOLE heart? Your WHOLE soul/self/being? Your WHOLE mind? No. Not even close. And you know how I know? Because there’s a second commandment like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. If you loved God, you would love your neighbor. If you loved God with your whole heart and soul and mind, you wouldn’t look down at others, whisper about the things they do. You wouldn’t get angry at them when they step on your toes. You wouldn’t hold a grudge against your neighbor. You wouldn’t give your neighbor the silent treatment. If you loved your neighbor, you would be in church without fail, to boost up your brothers and sisters in Christ and show them that along with God’s Word, they are the most important things in your life. If you really loved God. If you even tried to love your neighbor. But loving God and loving your neighbor would require you to love YOU the least not the most. And our sinful nature will not stand for that. So that Old Adam has got to die. He will hang on that Law: Love God. Love your neighbor. You don’t. The commandments condemn. Doom for the God and neighbor haters!
Until Jesus. He’s the son of David. And He’s David’s Lord. Now pay attention because what I just said about those commandments spells certain doom for you but what I am about to say spells certain salvation and eternal life. Jesus is David’s Lord. Because Jesus is God. Because He is the eternal Son. And Jesus is David’s son, because He’s born in the human family tree of David, from Mary. Jesus. Is. God. Jesus. Is. Man. Jesus is both true God and true man. And the whole Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets) is pointing to Him. Love God. Love neighbor. Jesus does exactly that. He loves God the Father above all things, even His own life, because He obeys the Father to undergo humiliation and suffering and death. And He loves His neighbor because He undergoes that humiliation and suffering and death, FOR YOU, His neighbor. Get it? Love God, love your neighbor. On those two commandments HANG all the Law and the Prophets. On those two commandments hangs Jesus. There’s the you and God part (vertical) and the you and your neighbor part (horizontal). And they meet in a cross. And the God-man hangs there to fulfill it all. What Jesus does, He does for God the Father and for everyone else. Not a bit of Jesus doing anything for Himself. And this is the difference between us and Jesus. We want to know what commandments we need to keep to try to save ourselves. Jesus keeps the commandments to save you.
So don’t be like the Pharisees who couldn’t answer the question. How can Jesus be David’s son AND David’s Lord? Because He’s God and man. What is the greatest commandment? Love God AND love your neighbor. It all comes together in Jesus. At Calvary. And it comes together for you at the font. In His Word. At the altar. Because there, your breaking the Law is covered and forgiven. There, His keeping of the Law is given to you. In your baptism, you do love God and your neighbor. When your sins are forgiven, you love God and your neighbor. When you are filled with the body and blood of the God-man Lamb of God, you love God and keep your neighbor. And by these gifts, the Spirit puts to death Mr. I’ll-keep-the-Law-to-save-my-own-bacon-Old Adam and gives to your new man the gift of learning to actually love God more than yourself and to love others more than yourself too. By water and Word and body and blood, Jesus gives you such a faith that, trusting in Him, you do love God because Jesus is God and your neighbor because Jesus is your neighbor. That is to say, by faith in Christ, His keeping and fulfilling the Law means you keep and fulfill the Law in Him. And suddenly, the commandments are not the way we save ourselves, they are the gift by which we see our lives in love of God and fervent love toward one another. Then by God you are saved from your sin and your neighbor is saved from Old Adam you to be blessed by New Man you in your daily life in Christ Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.