Tag Archives: Commandment

Making Jesus Angry

Standing in line to visit the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem, a few of us began singing, “O come let us adore Him…”   Immediately, a frowny-faced priest in robes and a special hat descended upon us to put a stop to our singing.  Huh?  No singing praises to Jesus at His birthplace?  Why not?  The answer was clear and forceful:  It was against the rules.  I’ll bet Jesus got angry.

Like the time He got angry at the religious authorities who wanted to stop Him from healing a man on the Sabbath.  Their attitude was dumbfounding: “We can’t allow God to do any miracles to bless people here; this is a place of worship and a day for honoring God!”   Huh?  Here’s how Jesus handled it:

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. (Mark 3:4-5)

If they had answered His question truthfully, it would have revealed how twisted their position was.  But they remained silent rather than jeopardize their authority over the flock.  In the process, they found themselves working against God.

God’s commands were given to bless, not to hinder us.  When we tell our kids not to touch the wood stove, it’s not to hinder their enjoyment, but to bless them with safety.  Same thing with God’s commands.  When religious authorities use those commands to hinder someone from discovering God’s love and grace, they work against God.  Perhaps they do it out of ignorance.  Too often they do it to bolster their own authority.  Either way, I believe Jesus gets frustrated and angry.

What Moses Saw

Moses could see it coming; he knew they couldn’t keep it.  He had just rescued his people from slavery in Egypt.  He’d been sent to deliver them to a land where God promised to bless them. But, before they even set foot in the land, Moses knew they would eventually mess it up, turn away from God and lose evrything they had. He warned them.  You can read it for yourself in the 29th chapter of Deuteronomy.   

Moses saw it coming and it happened, just as he said, 800  years later.  The Promised Land was overrun and destroyed.  The survivors were carted off to Babylon to live in exile.

But Moses also knew:

“…and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.  (Deuteronomy 30:2-3)
As unlikely as that would seem, it also happened, exactly as he said it would.  I am convinced God allowed that to demonstrate the tangible benefits of turning back to love and obey God “with all their hearts.”  Jesus also proclaimed this to be the most important commandment.

These days I sense a general attitude of despair and pessimism in the USA, a sense we have stumbled off in the wrong direction from which there seems to be no possible course correction.  Maybe Moses was on to something.

The Most Valuable Like

How much is a “like” worth online?  That question would not have made any sense 15 years ago, but now you know what it means!  Google it: You’ll see various estimates, ranging from 21 cents per “like” to $214!  But the most valuable “like” is the one in the middle of this quote from Jesus:

“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your 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.”” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Jesus had been asked for the greatest commandment in Scripture.  He responded with two (See: Keep it Simple).  He said the two commands were LIKE each other.  But He didn’t mean simply that they were similar.  He meant they corresponded to one another, that they were connected at the hip.  You can’t obey one without following the other and vice versa.  The two commands were really one, connected with the word, like.

Here’s how they work together: Jesus said that when we offer a simple kindness to someone in need – even a glass of water –  “… I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40b)   Your love for your neighbor is connected to and is an expression of your love for God, for Jesus.  That is how He receives it.  The first command is LIKE the second.

This connection flows in reverse as well.  Jesus taught us to pray,

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

And then He made the connection clear between our treatment of those who need forgiveness and God’s treatment of us:

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

Our love for The Father is connected to our love for our neighbor.  The two loves correspond to one another, they are like each other.  And, because our love for God is a dynamic relationship; it flows both ways, as we give and receive.  Because we love God, we give love to our neighbor and are able to receive love from God.  This interactive “dance” with God, lived out in relationship with the people in our lives, is how we keep this combined commandment.  It begins with an attitude of deep love and respect, not grudging obedience.

As we fully understand this word, LIKE, and grasp how it connects the two commands into one, it becomes the most powerful and valuable “like.”

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.