“Concern for those in severe need is not a matter of choice for the Christian; it is to be a Christian”– Diogenes Allen
There was a lawyer who came to Jesus and asked Him a question about the greatest commandment, trying to catch Him in heresy. Then, Jesus responded with “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39). After Jesus responded with this, the lawyer and the other Pharisees couldn’t find a way to respond and decided to never ask Him a question again. This was the best decision the Pharisees could have made…ever!
What’s interesting is, the lawyer only asked for “The great commandment in the Law” (v.35), but Jesus decided to add an extra element to it. I find it intriguing that Jesus chose to say that loving your neighbor is “like” loving God with all your heart. This is NOT a mistake. If we look into Jesus’ teachings after this event He shows His followers just how similar the commandments really are:
Matthew 25: 31-40
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
Leave it to a lawyer to bring out the truth, even if it hurts their case. Jesus’ explanation of the greatest commandment added some pressure to the group. We now have to go beyond just loving God, but we now have to see God in the people around us. Even more so, we need to see God in those who are in the most need and respond! Remember, Christ left His disciples with the commission to go, make disciples, baptizing, and teaching all that He commanded (Matt. 28: 19-20). The commission falls in line with His command of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, but also to love our neighbor as we love God! We must recognize that the needs of our neighbor must not be neglected, unless we want to choose to neglect our God.