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  • The Gospel and the Greatest Commandment

    Last week we heard a powerful message from God's Word.

    I'm not talking about my sermon. I'm talking about the message Jesus spoke in Mark 12:28–34.

    And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And 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.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

    As I've meditated further on this passage, and as I've spoken with some of those who listened to my sermon last week, I've been overwhelmed.

    I'm overwhelmed by the magnitude and gravity of God's law, and my inability to keep it.

    I'm overwhelmed by the glory and righteousness of God's Son, and his perfect obedience.

    I'm overwhelmed by the power and wisdom of God's Gospel, and my perfection before Him in it.

    I thought it might be helpful for me to share with you (primarily my church family, but also anyone else who might be reading this) my most recent and most clear meditation on this message from God's Word.

    God,
    my Creator,
    The Holy One,
    my Perfect Judge,
    my Loving Father,
    commands me above all else,
    to love him,
    with all that I have and with all that I am;
    and to love my neighbor,
    with the same care and concern I have for myself.

    He is worthy, worthy, worthy of my obedience.

    But I break this command
    every moment of my life.

    And so the Gospel is,

    that through faith in Christ,
    my Spotless Lamb,
    and by virtue of my spiritual union with him,
    I have loved God and my neighbor
    perfectly.

    simul justus et peccator

    So now,
    through faith in Christ,
    I am free to run in the way of God's commandments,
    with peace and joy
    abundant.

    "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

    (Romans 8:1–4)