John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
How could a sacred tablet of stone be such a rigid taskmaster and so full of promise at the same time?
The 10 commandments are a demonstration of how God can take a profound knowledge of Himself and lace it together with an understanding of how we should live.
Demonstrated in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21, the perfection of God was laid out and set as a standard for us to attain.
- I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
- You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
- Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
- Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Unfortunately, the task of upholding this commandment proved too difficult to bear. The practice of presenting the sacrifice was then introduced in order to atone for the sin of breaking the law.
Just like mankind has done with everything he touches, the law had additional laws stacked upon it, making the effort to abide unbearable. The sacrifices were another opportunity to extort the people, charging them more than they could afford to present their offering, changing the weights to rob them of their meager provisions, and in turn stealing the genuineness of fellowship with God. The Pharisees were the religious elite who governed the ordinances of God’s laws and enforced them among the people. The longer these hypocrites ruled, the more laws they added, making the burden of abiding with God an oppressive task.
The law is perfect, just like the nature of God. This perfection personified through this covenant relationship is a moniker of Holiness that must be attained in order to stand before God. No man or woman in history has been able to stand before it justified. To break this law is to offend God personally. To break the law is the very definition of sin.(1 John 3:4)
Then appeared the Savior
Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
The priests who were meant to exemplify God’s laws turned and profaned them. The people could only see a standard that was unapproachable, a standard the Pharisees couldn’t uphold themselves.(Matthew 23)
Jesus became our High Priest before the Father and modeled the law to perfection. He became the image of the invisible God(Colossians 1:15) toward all those who have looked upon Him with hope.
Jesus not only upheld the law, He taught it, He used it in leading people out of self-righteousness, and ultimately He fulfilled it’s requirement.
Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
The requirement of the law is death. To all who offend God’s laws, they place themselves under a position of judgement. The sad reality is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.(Romans 3:23) Everyone is subjected to the penalty of their sin and must stand alone and give account for their sin.(Romans 14:12)
To all who call upon the name of the Lord, will be saved from the judgement of sin.(Romans 10:13)
The 11th Commandment
The Last Supper is one of the most poignant and beautiful moments of Jesus Messiah’s ministry. On the last night of His time on earth, Jesus gathered His disciples to celebrate Passover. It was this night He washed the disciples feet. It was also the night that Judas decided to leave and betray Him.
John 13:1 “It was now just before the Passover Feast, and Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the very end.”
It was this setting Jesus chose to give His disciples a new charge. It was after Judas’ betrayal that Jesus instructed His true followers what it looked like to follow Him.
3 words summarize this new commandment: Love one another. But the commandment didn’t stop there, it wasn’t just loving one another that was expected, Jesus had exemplified love to them and He wanted them to follow.
The Moral law is an expression of love toward God and love for one another, if left there, the commandment wouldn’t be new.
The love within the Moral law was a love for God by service. It was a recognition of God’s sovereignty and the ideal of upholding His holiness as our standard.
The Moral law was an expression of storge love, a love for family. It was an expression of eros love for your wife. It was a model of philia love for others.
The New commandment took the expression of love, Agape love, that Jesus personified, and placed the onus on us to express it as well.
Why did Jesus wait to give this commandment?
Agape made possible.
1 Corinthians 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
The love of Christ has been given to us. A sacrificial love that can only be exemplified by God through the Messiah and now through us. Judas was not of Christ, he could therefore not receive this commandment.
It was by this love the disciples served until they forfeited their lives. It is by this love God’s people throughout history have served others selflessly, forsaking family and friends, forsaking the comforts of this world, and giving everything for the sake of the gospel.
The world cannot know this kind of love….it escapes them.
2 Corinthians 4:4 “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
Not only does this love escape the world, they likewise cannot perceive it. When they witness this love, they find it perplexing, it doesn’t make sense. How can you love someone else you don’t even know? How can you give your life for someone that doesn’t deserve it?
The gospel is the only thing that cuts through the confusion and makes our reality a possibility for them. It is our agape love for God and for one another that becomes a testimony to the world as well.
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Do you see why a simple belief in Jesus will never do? To be transformed by the power of God is to die to the old, that He might remake us new. It is the Spirit of God that transforms, and it is this same Spirit that gives us life upon salvation.
The summary of the Moral law is this: Mark 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
This commandment was impossible to follow.
Today, because of Jesus’ life and death, we can now fulfill this law perfectly. We have been set free from the impossibility of the law by being made perfect in Him.
We have only Jesus to thank.