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The burden of love

Matthew 22:34-46

Pastor David Ernst

Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Oct 20, 2019 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We read a lot in the Scriptures about love. The Bible says "God is love." But, we must understand love as the fulfillment of God's Law. The Law is God's will for us to live like his children, the moral law. Many people think it is easy to keep the 10 Commandments. The Pharisees had many more rules than the ten. Therefore, their question for Jesus.

“And when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered as one. Then one of them, who was an interpreter of the law, asked to tempt him, saying: Teacher, what is the great commandment in the law? ”

Jesus answered him thus: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is similar to this one: You will love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. "

With these words, Jesus quoted the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Well, many people today say that love is the most important thing. More important than the rules, we should only have a feeling of love in our hearts. However, the love the Bible speaks is not a feeling, but a pattern of action.

The Greek language has four different words that can be translated as love. First, στοργή means our preferences or those that we find comfortable. I love chocolate ice cream or I love the Caracas Lions. Ἔρως is romantic love, the desire of man for a woman or of a woman for a man. φιλία means friendship, loyalty to our friends or brothers.

All these feelings are conditional in one sense or another. I love coffee, but not if the coffee has too much sugar or no sugar. You young people must understand it is not healthy to have romantic love if the other does not have the same feeling. We should not feel loyalty for those who are not loyal to us.

But, the word most frequently translated as love in the Scriptures is ἀγάπη, love that does not seek reward, but only wants the welfare of its beloved. The model in nature is the love of parents for their children. They love their children even if they disappoint their parents or distance themselves from them. Even more this is the character of God's love for us. God doesn't need anything from us, but He wants our well-being.

We are by nature selfish and this selfishness poisons our relationships, the natural loves that God created in us. On the other side, divine love transforms our relationships with our neighbors. Therefore, Jesus said that the love of neighbor arises from the love of God. But we cannot love God as He deserves. Agape flows from God, not from us. And this love God showed us in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

Therefore, Jesus' question for the interpreter of the Law went like this: "What do you think of Christ? Whose son is he?" Because the Pharisee knew the prophecies of the Old Testament. Christ is a Greek word equal to the Hebrew word Messiah , which means “The Anointed One” or “The Chosen One.” The Messiah or the Christ was prophesied to save his people, and more, all the nations. In what way? God promised King David that the Messiah will be born of his lineage.  So, the Pharisee answered Jesus' last question that the Christ must be a son of David.

But, Jesus told him, in Psalm 110, King David calls the Messiah his Lord and says that God told this descendant to feel at His right hand, which means this Messiah will receive all the authority and honor that belong to God himself . This Son of David and at the same time Son of God can judge the living and the dead, but first he came to fulfill the Law perfectly and gain God's forgiveness for all sinners. The Pharisee did not want to be judged, so he did not seek forgiveness in the presence of the Christ.

Perfect love is not within us. Therefore, we confess that we have not loved God as He deserves, and we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. To identify the fulfillment of the Law as love is not to identify a lighter burden, but something heavier. Love is not expressed in feelings, but in actions. But, without an impulse in the heart, we cannot do the actions we must do. First, we cannot love God as the first three commandments command. And if we cannot achieve that, we cannot achieve the rest of the commandments in love of our neighbor. But, through the faith in Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit gives us, we can learn to love God and our neighbor.

First comes the faith that believes in the promise of eternal life, and follows the good works in our lives. The love of our neighbor is the fruit of God's love that the Spirit ignites in us.

In this we can have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.





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