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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why We Need Jesus!

Jesus was once asked, "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 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 22:36-40) In this fascinating conversation, Jesus calls us to recall the Ten Commandments. These commandments, which we are receiving in our sermon series right now, flesh out exactly what Jesus is getting at here. The first three commandments (sometimes called, "the first table of the Law") teach us what our relationship with God ought to look like. The other seven commandments ("the second table of the Law") teach us how to love our neighbors as ourselves.

To be sure, such commandments are impossible to keep perfectly for sinners, especially when we are to keep them according to God's standard. God's standard is that we keep them without fail. Love God perfectly and love your neighbor perfectly. Jesus says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Such words scare us because we know that we don't keep them in this way. But Jesus does!

Jesus comes, not just to clarify how we should keep the law, but to actually keep it for us. He came to fulfill the law. He said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17). This means Jesus came to do for us what we could not do. He came to keep the law perfectly for us. He came to be righteous where we are sinful. And by virtue of His death, His sacrifice in our place, His righteousness is counted toward us. That is, Jesus not only died our death, but He lived our life. He lived perfectly for us. We who are baptized into His name are declared righteous because He is righteous for us. We, because of Christ, are now free from the condemnation of the Law. What is more, we are now free to love God and our neighbor without fear of condemnation when we don't do it perfectly!

I have a pastor friend in Arizona who just so happens to be preaching on the Ten Commandments right now, too. He has called his series, "Freedom." I love this title for a series on the commandments. The commandments describe for us how, as Christians, we are FREE to live! In Romans, Paul says this, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) We are free FROM the condemning word of the law and we are free TO fulfill the law by loving God and our neighbor! What a joy it is to live in this life, free from condemnation, free from trying to earn God's love, and freed to love those around us with the love of God!

Pastor Bob

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Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email