You Shall Love

In Blogs by Becky Meissner1 Comment

Everybody leaned in close to hear His answer…

This rabbi has been causing quite a stir within the Jewish community. Most rabbis travel with their talmidim (disciples) close by, and teach from village to village, from home to home. They live together, work together, eat together… the talmid’s primary objective is to become like their rabbi in every way, including matters of character. This relationship goes far beyond a basic student–teacher relationship you would find within a formal classroom. It’s more than imparting knowledge from one head to another. It’s fashioning one’s life so closely to another that everyone knows whose you are. 

But this rabbi is different than all the others. This rabbi speaks with authority and even performs miracles. Yes, this rabbi is different.

The room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

The lawyer who had asked the question raised his brow. Clearly, he was testing the Rabbi with this question. His own extensive study of the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible) and the Oral Law, no doubt, made him an “expert” in this field. Bible study is one of the most popular family activities in observant Jewish homes. “Davar Torah” (literally, a word of teaching) is a common practice at home around the dinner table, while out walking, working, and traveling, at special occasions and festivals, and in formal school. A Torah portion is read each week in the Synagogue along with a portion from the Prophets and Writings. The Jewish people are “people of the Book.” Because the Torah is so central to Jewish life, a rabbi often implements the practice of “Stringing Pearls” (charaz – stringing together different related passages in order to highlight one common valuable truth). This lawyer just posed the question that’s been burning deep within all of our hearts: What does it all boil down to?

Our Duty

The Bible is filled with narratives, poems, instructions for life, prophecy, glimpses of God’s glory, genealogies… but if you could boil it all down, what is the essence of God’s written Word?

We lean forward and incline our ears as the wisest Rabbi to ever walk the dust of this earth basically answers this question with one word: LOVE.

We lean forward and incline our ears as the wisest Rabbi to ever walk the dust of this earth basically answers this question with one word: LOVE.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He [Jesus] said to him [the lawyer], “‘You shall love [ahavta] the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ [Pearl #1 found in Deuteronomy 6:5] This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love [ahavta] your neighbor as yourself.’ [Pearl #2 found in Leviticus 19:18) On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36–40)

Jesus highlighted the “love command connection” in these two portions from the Torah. Immediately, we can easily see how the 10 commandments given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai can be separated into these two love commands. The first 4 commands pertain to our vertical relationship in loving God with every fiber of our being, and the following 6 commands have to do with our horizontal relationships with mankind and loving our neighbor.

Our Standard

But what do the prophets have to say about “ahav” (love)? Two major themes arise as we study the word “ahav” in the books of prophecy. First, we see Israel’s repeated failure to keep either of these two precious ahavta commands. Second, and most remarkably, we see God committing Himself to love.

“But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend [ahav].” (Isa. 41:8)

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved [ahav] thee with an everlasting love [ahava]: therefore with lovingkindness [chesed] have I drawn thee.’” (Jer. 31:3) 

In Jeremiah 31:31–37, God even goes on to describe a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Jacob, which is founded on God’s love.

Have you ever thought about how God holds Himself to this same very high standard of love? He is true to His holy nature to judge sin and exalt Himself in the beauty of His own holiness, and He is faithful to show mercy and lovingkindness to mankind. His perfect justice and perfect mercy meet at the cross (Jn. 3:16; Isa. 53).

Our Response

What does all of this mean for the talmidim (disciples) of Jesus, God’s Son?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we must also love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us.

We know that we live in Him, and He in us, because He has given us His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. (1 Jn. 4:7–16)

So, what does this all boil down to?

LOVE.

About the Author
Becky Meissner

Becky Meissner

Becky is a Field Ministry Representative in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can support her ministry online here.

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