Pastor Jonathan Falwell
Key Verse: Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:34–40 (NKJV): But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
The Lawyer’s challenge
What did Jesus mean? What did the lawyer hear? How was this a radically different approach than what they had been taught to believe?
What did Jesus mean by “neighbor”?
• Plēsion – close by, neighboring, adjacent, near
So is Jesus only saying we are to love those close, those like us, those similar to us both in location and belief? In fact, Jesus quoted here from the book of Leviticus…which is the rule book of the Jews.
Leviticus 19:1-2a (NKJV): And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them…
Leviticus 19:18 (NKJV): You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
So, then what was Jesus trying to say? Let’s go back to another conversation between a lawyer and Jesus where we find what Jesus really meant.
Luke 10:25–37 (NKJV): And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” 27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” 29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
So who is my neighbor?
1. People close
2. People far
3. People like us
4. People not like us
5. People we like
6. People we don’t
Why? Because Jesus commanded it…Go and do likewise
2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV): The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.