The Lowest Command - Love
John D. Telgren

The scribes knew exactly the number of commands in the Torah. They studied it so much, they could even tell you which verse was the middle verse, and which letter was the middle letter. They studied his word with a fierce intensity and were deeply aware of the issues surrounding things such as obedience to the Sabbath, kosher laws, and tithing.

What was ironic was that many still missed it. Jesus condemned one of the most respected sects of Judaism in his day, the Pharisees. In all of their debates on precisely how to obey Torah, they overlooked the lowest thing. Because of this, Jesus called them "whitewashed tombs (Matt 23:27)." In all of their command keeping, they looked nice on the outside, but were full of death on the inside. He condemned them for neglecting the "weightier provisions" of Torah, such as "justice and mercy and faithfulness (Matt 23:23)." Just prior to this severe condemnation, Jesus spelled out the foundation . . .

"And He said to them, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets (Matt 22:37-40)."

Both the Torah and the Prophets were based on one thing: love. The root of Torah was love for God and others. Without the root, the tree is dead and fruitless, just like the fig tree that Jesus cursed on the road to the fruitless temple in Jerusalem (Matt 21:19). There were those who were fruitless and therefore cursed in spite of the fact they were obeying commandments. They were not "rooted and grounded in love (Eph 3:17)."

Paul emphatically stated that if we have faith to move mountains and engage in good deeds, yet do it without love, it doesn't mean a thing (1 Cor 13:1-3). It is like the fig tree that had leaves, but no fruit. Leaves may look nice, but it is the fruit that matters. True fruit can only come as the result of the root of love.

You can whitewash the outside of a tomb and adorn it all you want, and it will still be full of death. Change has to come from within. Love is the like oxygen that gives life to dried up bones. Without oxygen, we die. So don't dismiss the importance of love.

Jesus lowered love to the lowest command. It must be underneath us because it is to be the foundation for everything we do. Without the foundation, we will topple in the judgment just as the temple did 2000 years ago without its foundation of love.