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Jesus’s Greatest Gift

Christians take pride in the claim that Jesus never violated the Law of Moses, but Jesus himself didn’t seem to consider that to be terribly important. When called “Good teacher”, he replies [Mark 10:18]:

Why do you call me good? No one is good-except God alone.

In fact, in his teaching, Jesus pares down. To the rich young man seeking to know the path to eternal life, [Mark 10:19] Jesus says:

You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your mother and father.’

And when the lawyer asks for the greatest commandment [Matt. 22:37-40], Jesus says:

‘Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

What is going on here? The pride of the Hebrews was their Law, but Jesus did not come and say,

“Very good, proud servants! You have mastered the 613 edicts of the Law! Now, let me finish it for you!” With a wave of his hand, a completed wiki of law appeared, covering all of life’s possibilities.

No, he said “Use your heart and mind and soul. You love. You draw near to God. You go out and serve your neighbors.”

Adam and Eve failed in Eden because they were weak. The Law of Moses was a prophylactic – an intellectual condom – for those still suffering with that weakness. But after millennia of wrestling with the interpretation of the law, Jesus called his people to leave it behind.

His final refutation was to rise from the dead after the Law was used to destroy him.

Can the rest of Humanity do the same? Some of us, yes, for he says to his disciples [Matt: 16:24]:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

But obviously that was not what he told others (see above).

So why do so many Christians impose rules? Because in a broken world, love hurts. We open our hearts to people and they pour all their poison into us. But Jesus has an answer for that. He says, “I will die for the forgiveness of sins. Pour their poison into me. I will take it from you. I will make the weak strong. I will support the burdened. You – you, dear child of God – you go out and love.”

From our weakness and dependency upon the rules that limit us, Jesus makes an escape into the infinite possibilities of love.

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