and if I understood all of God’s secret plans
and possessed all knowledge,
and if I had such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I would be nothing."
~I Corinthians 1:2
As we draw closer to Holy Week, our thoughts are drawn to the plight of Jesus. He was and is The One, the long-awaited Messiah. He was the fulfillment of prophecy and He was prophetic. He understood all of God's secret plans. In fact, He was God's secret plan. He possessed all knowledge. He had faith that could move mountains. He had all of these gifts and abilities. But it was His love that changed lives. It was His love that got Him in trouble. It was His love that led Him to the cross.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, we see hecklers in every crowd: the Pharisees. It was their religious position, or disposition, to protect and enforce the law of the Jews. They were religious to a fault. They were legalistic to a fault. They imposed so many rules and regulations that the people became slaves of the law. They tried to impose these laws upon The One who came to fulfill the law.
Jesus refuted the laborious laws of the self-righteous. He condemned legalistic religiosity. His message was compassion, healing, resurrection, justice, mercy...LOVE. His message was more than a message. It was a public demonstration of a new order, a new Kingdom, a new covenant between God and His people. This covenant is a covenant of Love.
The ultimate absurdity is that the religious leaders nailed Jesus to the cross. It demonstrated their spiritual blindness. It demonstrated their lack of love for God and His word, their lack of love for one another for the sake of their devotion to laws and religions of man.
I love the preaching of Peter on the Day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2:
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs...and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him on the cross. But God raised him from the dead...Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart... (vvs. 22-24,36-37)."
Then they asked Peter, "What shall we do?" He instructed them to repent.
We must repent too.
- for leaning on our knowledge of scripture rather than allowing it to change us at a heart level
- for believing in our own self-righteousness rather than seeking God's righteousness
- for making this Covenant of Love into a rulebook for others to follow
- for imposing judgment on those who do not know Christ
- for not obeying the Commands of Jesus:
- "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
- "Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39)."
Lord, forgive us for our tendency to cast judgment, to overlook our own faults and criticize others. We are truly sorry, for we, like the Pharisees, can easily fall into the habit of reading Your Word just to grow in knowledge, to display our knowledge before others rather than hiding it in our hearts and applying it to our lives. We, too, have nailed you to the cross because of our sins. Thank you for your selfless act of forgiveness, Lord. May we truly live out this Love Command. Fill us anew with Your love and give us a burning passion to love others. In Jesus Name, Amen.