The Law of Love

Paul has a lot to say in his letters about the Law. Throughout the Book of Romans, the paragraphs have subject headers like “Judgement and the Law,” “Released from the Law,” “Sin and Law” and so on.  As a Pharisee, Paul had studied the Law well and enforced it.  As a Christian sharing the Gospel, he realized that the Law and the Prophets had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  His opinion of the Law remained very high.  Paul says the Law is like a tutor, or school master.  It teaches us about the attributes of God.  Living under the Law though would mean we are still subject to God’s judgement.  Living under grace is far superior to meeting the requirements of the Law.  Keeping the Law is a burden we cannot bear.

Paul also has a thing or two to say about love.  I was struck during my last read of Romans at how Paul relates love and the Law together.  Note this passage from Romans 13:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  -Rom 13:8-10

Wow.  Love is the fulfilling of the Law; very similar to Jesus’s answer about the greatest commandment in Mark 12.  In that case, Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind and strength and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no way to violate any one of the 10 commandments if this love is our guiding principle.  Which is exactly what Paul explains here.  In John 15, Jesus said things like “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,” and even “I give you this commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  I’m still amazed at the way Paul expresses love as the fulfillment of the Law.

Jesus’ Example: Love Your Enemies

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. 

Those are the words of Jesus in Matt 5:44.  The entire sermon on the mount can be read in Matt 5-7, but let’s deal right now with just this one command.  Like everything Jesus taught, he not only gave the instruction but provided us with his example to follow.  Jesus loved his enemies.  Continue reading

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

he that is without sinJohn chapter 4 tells the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. It just so happens I’ve written on this passage before. This post describes everything “weird” about the conversation Jesus had with her, namely that a religious leader, or any Jewish man for that matter, would not have been talking to such a person.

John chapter 8 recounts the story of the woman caught in adultery. In this situation the woman is clearly guilty of a sin punishable by death. When she is left with no accusers (“Let he that is without sin…”) Jesus tells her that he will not condemn her either. She is told to go, and sin no more. How can he not condemn her, having been caught in the very act of adultery? Continue reading