One day a teacher of the Law asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28). Jesus answered that the greatest commandment was: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (v. 30). But then He added a second, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 31). The reason Jesus gave two commands, not just one, is that they go together. You cannot really love God without loving your neighbor and vice versa.
Today’s reading includes the second greatest commandment (Lev. 19:18). Not surprisingly, it is included in a section with a variety of commands, some of which address our relationship with God, while others address our relationship with other people.
The laws relating to God deal with correct worship (vv. 26, 30). These include upholding the food laws and observing the Sabbaths (vv. 26, 30). These are easy enough to understand. Some of the laws were designed to remind Israel that they were a separate and holy people (v. 19). Some of the more bizarre laws relate to Israel remaining distinct from the cultures around them and not participating in pagan worship (vv. 27–31).
Throughout these verses there is a concern to treat others well. Israel was to respect the elderly (v. 32), show hospitality to foreigners (v. 34), and be honest in their work (vv. 35–36). They should live this way because that is how God had treated them. He had also redeemed them from slavery in Egypt (v. 36).
>> As followers of Jesus, we are not under the Mosaic Law. Yet, as Jesus affirmed, the principles behind the Law still reveal the character of God and are authoritative. In this passage, we get a glimpse of God’s love for His people and the world He created (vv. 23–24). We are called to be like Him (Lev. 19:2).
Your wrath is majestic. Your justice is holy. Your power is incredible. We who are small, weak, and prone to sin rejoice that You are also “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29) and abounding in love!