Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducee's, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which 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."
When Jesus says "All the Law and the Prophets" he is talking about the portion of Scripture what we call the Old Testament. So, we see Jesus believes that the focal point of the Scriptures is love. The reason why we see him challenging all of the religious systems of his day is because they were not centered around love.
He challenged a Sabbath system that cared more about rules than healing. He challenged those who tithe huge amounts by saying the woman who gave 2 pennies was the one who gave the most. When he cleared the temple he was challenging it, because those selling were not selling out of a love for Yahweh or the Torah, but to make huge sums of money. His whole ministry was calling out systems built on greed and fear, not built around love.
If these systems were not built on love what were they built on? Well the two basic roots are fear and greed; sometimes both. These systems usually are built on involve control, power. Because fear and greed are so powerful, these systems often use violence in order to protect and control themselves.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John are choked full of Jesus calling his followers to live lives of love; it is the core of his project with the 12. He spends 3-years deconstructing the way that they think; because no other systems are built on love. In the end - for his final act of love – he challenged a system of greed and fear by calling their greed out for everybody to see. Lovingly, he refused to respond to their violence with violence, instead he responded to their beating by praying to God for them.
The question is why are we acting the way we do. Are our systems being built on love? Or do they find their source in greed or fear?
Part 2 to follow tomorrow.