By: Carole L. Haines
I woke up this morning with a verse mulling around in my mind, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I looked up the verse and its context:
34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Most of what we need to do can be found in these two verses; Love God and Love others. But that little phrase “as yourself” pops out here too. Love your neighbor as yourself, what does that even mean? Jesus talks a lot about loving others. Even though the Old Testament is far longer in length than the New Testament, the use of the word love is virtually equal in how often it occurs. Approximately 250x in the Old and 234x in the New. Of the four Gospels, John speaks of it 3x more than all the other Gospels combined. When You read John’s Epistles 1,2 &3, he writes of it almost as many times as his entire Gospel. One might say the Apostle John was obsessed with loving one another.
Yet these were some of Jesus’ last words before He left the earth, “Love One another.” I thought this was going to be just a quick, uplifting Devotional lasting one day; but as God is unfolding it here in front of me, I’m seeing another short series like the one I just did on “The Sufferings of Christ,” for Easter. God is so good to unfold His Word for us and take us as deep into it as we choose to go. One of my favorite pictures in the New Testament is the conversation on The Road to Emmaus.
This can be found in Luke 24:13-32. Please go and read this Beautiful encounter with Jesus.
In this encounter Jesus speaks these words:
25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:25-27)
Just imagine the thrill of hope in having Jesus explain to them the things concerning the Christ. Yet He has given us His Holy Spirit to do the very same thing. Jesus promises this in John 14:
25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:25-27)
This Helper will lead us as we take a look into what is means to love our neighbor as ourselves. I am not talking about the Narcissistic, self-exalting kind of love. God’s love calls us to give up any other view of ourselves and others, except the way sees us. A call to lay aside all our own ideas of who we are, who others are; and adopt God’s view as our only view. That is what I feel Him calling me to write to you about, and so I will.