Gospel: John 15.9-17. In this text Jesus tells us to love one another, and says that the Father has loved Him, and He has loved us. He says that we show our love for Him by obedience to His commands, and then in this love and obedience we find joy. He calls us friends and says He has chosen us, not vice versa. He wants us to go and bear fruit and the Father will enable us to do this by giving us what we need.
The Shema (‘Hear, O Israel,,,,’ Dt 6.4,5) is the central text of the Mosaic Law and says that God is one and we are to love Him with all our heart, soul, might. When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He answered with the Shema (Mt 22.36-40) and added that we should love our neighbor as ourself (Lev 19.18). Love is the center of the Law and the center of what we should do as we walk in the Spirit of Christ. Moses received the Law (Torah) from God and gave it to the Israelites who were making an idol, the golden calf, at the very moment that Moses was with YHWH on Mt. Sinai! This is reminiscent of Adam’s sin in the Garden and shows that Israelites were sinners also just like Adam. The Torah was to keep the Israelites from mixing with their idolatrous neighbors in the land of Canaan and elsewhere. It was not very successful. When Jesus came to Israel as the incarnate Messiah, rather than wanting to isolate Israel from her neighbors, God wanted to form one family comprised of Israelites and Gentiles so the Torah with its obstacles to union with non-Jews had to be annulled (Gal 3.19-4.7; Rm 7-8). The Law which was holy, and just, and good (Rm 8.12) had become a ‘curse’ by condemning those who could not keep the Law. It was given as a temporary measure until Christ came (Gal 4.7) and then Christ and the Holy Spirit in effect superseded the Law by fulfilling it. And, if we are ‘in Christ,’ the love that we are given (Rm 5.5) accomplishes what the Law was intended to do but could not because of our sin. Believers in Christ are no longer condemned by the Law (Rm 8.1) because they are justified (declared righteous) and fulfill the Law by love, sanctification, and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22,23) in a way the Law was never able to enable them to do. The Law promised life (Lev 18.5) but life (abundant life and resurrection life in the Messiah, that is) can only be realized by the Holy Spirit. If we love God and one another, we fulfill the Law and are obeying the commandments of God when through the Spirit we are made members of God’s covenant family. Then the Spirit which raised Christ from the dead will raise our mortal bodies also. The Gentiles can be brought into God’s one family through faith in the Messiah and can keep the provisions of the Torah apart from the obstacles of the Mosaic Law (circumcision, food laws, purity laws, Sabbath, etc). Rm 7 describes the difficulty of the Israelites (including Saul of Tarsus) in keeping the Torah, while Rm 8 tells us that those ‘in the Messiah’ keep the Law by means of love and the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ who ‘has redeemed us from the curse of the Law’ (Gal 3.13). Jew and Gentile become one family in the Messiah as promised by YHWH to Abraham (Gen 12.1-3), and the love of the Messiah through the Holy Spirit fulfills the requirements of the Law as God had intended from the beginning.
Memory Verse: For what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin. He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rm 8.3,4).