The Most Important Teaching: Love for God and Neighbour

More than once, people asked Jesus Christ which was His most important teaching in order to inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Some asked because they wanted to know and others did to find a reason to accuse Him.

One day, a Jewish lawyer (a man who studied the Law of God) wishing to put Jesus Christ to the test asked Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"

Jesus Christ said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments rest all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)

This means everything that the Law of God teaches, and about which the prophets spoke, is contained entirely in these two major laws. That is, all the commandments of the law and its teachings speak to us about love. And this is no ordinary love - this is divine love, a love that puts all things second to God. If we had within ourselves such love, then all the remaining laws could be abolished, for they are all merely subdivisions of Jesus' law about love. Thus, for example, if we love our neighbour, then we would not be able to offend him or cheat him, much less kill him, or envy him; and, in general, we would not wish him any kind of evil. On the contrary, we would pity him, care for him, and be ready to sacrifice everything for him. Likewise, if we truly love the Lord our God like Jesus says, then we would not be able to choose ay other options in life except those which God wills for us. Therefore did Jesus Christ say: "There are no other commandments greater than these" (Mark 12:31).

In the account of this event in the Gospel of Mark, the lawyer replies to Jesus, "You are right, Teacher! You have truly said that to love God with all one’s being and to love one’s neighbour as oneself is much more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices" (Mark 12:32-33). And acknowledging that he answered wisely, Jesus said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28.

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