The Week that Jesus Changed the World
by Wendy Fitzgerald
After Jesus left the temple, the religious leaders were furious and plotted how they could kill Jesus to quiet His teaching. At the time of Christ, there were two primary religious groups, and much like today, there were divisions between these groups and their beliefs. However, in the goal of trying to quiet Christ, they were unified and both groups began attacking Jesus with questions that were sculpted to trap Him. The Bible records five different conversations where Jesus’ authority was challenged. The final confrontation was about the Law.
Read Mark 12: 28-34
What was the question that the teacher of the law asked Jesus?
What was Jesus’ answer?
Knowing that He was instilling final ideas into the minds of His followers, Jesus summed up everything that they knew from the Old Testament law, which consisted of 613 laws, into the two most important things: Above all, love God and love others! Imagine spending your life memorizing the laws, teaching the laws, and living by the restrictions of the laws only to have Jesus concentrate them into two thoughts: Love God and love others! This seemingly simplistic view of God infuriated the religious leaders.
However, like we have seen the last couple of days, Jesus’ answer was derived from His knowledge of the Old Testament, in this case Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Jesus knew that every commandment was rooted in the heart. When we put the priorities of our heart in the correct order, God first, others second, and ourselves last, we experience the joy-filled life that God desires for us. However, when we misalign the intentions of our heart by placing our wants and needs before that of God and others, our joy is lost.
How about you? Do you live a life that is driven by joy or driven away from joy? One way that you can measure if God has first place in your life is in the way that you treat others. You see, when you love God, you are willing to love others…even those that seem unlovable. Take a few moments and ask God to direct your thoughts to the people in your life. Is there anyone that you have hardened your heart toward? Maybe it is a person who has hurt you or angered you, and by the world’s standards, you feel justified in allowing yourself not to love them, but God’s standard is different. As followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. In Luke 6:27-36 God promises us great reward for loving our enemies. He challenges us to bless those who persecute us, to love our enemies, to be different from the world, and by doing so, His love flows through us.
This week, as we head closer each day to His ultimate act of love on the cross, ask God to reveal to you how you can show His love through the way you love others.
Three Minutes of Prayer:
Day One: One minute praising God for sending His Son to be our Messiah.
Day Two: Add one minute asking God to show you who to pray for and invite to church
Day Three: Add one minute asking God to show you how to forgive and love