It Depends

What does it mean for anything to depend upon something else? Is it contingent upon a choice or outcome? Or is it a dependence that fully relies upon the other, so much so that independence is impossible.

One Word –

On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 22:40

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 39, 40; Matthew 22; Mark 12

Big Idea –

Let’s take a moment to put what is happening within its larger context of the LORD’s appointed times – specifically Passover. Jesus has made what we refer to as His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Riding the colt into the city amid the shouts of “Hosanna!,” Jesus fulfills the shadow picture the Jews had rehearsed for centuries. As our High Priest, Jesus comes into Jerusalem to offer Himself as God’s Passover Lamb.

After the lamb was selected and brought into Jerusalem, it would be brought into the Temple for inspection by the religious leaders. This was to insure that the lamb was perfect without any spot or defect. Matthew 21:23 tells us that Jesus was in the Temple being challenged by the religious leaders and teaching the people in parables. Each time Jesus answered their questions the people marveled at His insight. Finally, they stopped asking Him anymore questions (Mat. 22:46). The inspection of God’s Passover Lamb had concluded; Jesus was perfect. In the end on the morning of the Passover, Pilot would speak the very same words spoken by the High Priest “I find no fault in Him”(Jn. 19:6 KJV).

Now, lets look at the inspection of Jesus regarding the Law. I particularly like how Matthew sets this up. Since the Sadducees were silenced and unable to find fault in Jesus’ response to their question, the Pharisees – experts in the Law – got together to ask Jesus the perfect question. Remember, their intention was for Jesus to show negligence in His words so they would have a reason to accuse Him. So one of them stood and asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law” (v.36)?

We are familiar with Jesus’ response. The greatest commandment is that we love the LORD our God completely, and the second is like it; we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus then says, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

What does it mean that all the Law and Prophets “depend” upon these two commandments?  From the Greek kremannymi, often translated in modern English versions “depend,” is also translated as “based on.” The idea is that all the Law and Prophets are summed up in these two commandments. Thus we often think that if we love God and our neighbor that’s all we need to do because we have obeyed all God’s commandments.

I think there is a better way of understanding what Jesus is saying. Kremannymi literally means hang (as is the KJV translation). It is the same word used in Acts 5:30 describing how Jesus was killed by “hanging him on a tree.” When understood in this way, Jesus is telling us that everything in the Law and Prophets hang upon these two commandments.

This is a subtle but significant difference in how to understand what Jesus is saying. Rather than being a summation of the commandments fulfilling them all, they are the ‘poles’ upon which everything else written hangs. Without these two greatest commandments all the Law and Prophets fall to the ground broken and  meaningless. Thus the these two commandments support or hold up the rest. Put simply, all the Law and the Prophets cannot stand independently because everything written has no meaning if it is separated from the two greatest commandments.

This helps me begin to make sense of commandments and things in the Old Testament that I though were meaningless or had no application for our lives today. All the Law and Prophets explain or show me how to obey the two greatest commandments. I have no way to knowing how to live a holy life (or God’s expectations of me) until I see that the purpose of what was written down in the Law and Prophets is to teach me how to love God and my neighbor.

Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that I’m saying we need to obey the commandments to earn salvation. No, we are saved by grace through faith, it is God’s gift to us. But being saved and knowing God’s immeasurable love for me, I want to respond with loving obedience to Jesus who is my LORD and Savior.

Therefore, one of the simplest ways to begin to understand how everything hangs upon the two greatest commandments is by looking at the Ten Commandments. These are not just random religious and moral laws. Rather they hang or depend upon the greatest commandments teaching me how to love God and my neighbor. The first five commandments hang upon or explain the greatest commandment: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (v. 37). The last five commandments hang upon or explain the second: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (v.39).

By the way, in Mark 12 a Pharisee or “scribe” replied to Jesus’ answer saying, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other besides Him. And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices (vv. 32-33). When Jesus saw that this one had answered wisely He said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (v. 34). Some believe this may have been the young Saul of Tarsus who was being trained as a Pharisee by Gamaliel.

Exemplify –

I believe all scripture, including the Old Testament, is given to train or teach us how to live righteously through obedience to the greatest commandments. Therefore I want continually allow the Holy Spirit to teach me obedience in spirit and truth to everything that hangs upon those two simple but of utmost significance of commandments.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, forgive me for the ways in which I have disregarded Your Word by not understanding how the Holy Spirit wanted to use it to teach me how to live a holy and righteous life. I confess some things are still difficult for me to understand. But rather than try to figure everything out, empower me to live in obedience to those commandments I do understand. I want to fully express my love to You and my neighbor, so help me to properly hang Your word upon these greatest of commandments through obedience.

If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Preparation of Joy!

Often our religious preparation in the coming weeks can be solemn. Could it be God wants us to make it a season of overflowing joy?

One Word –

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:9-10

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 33, 34, 35; Mark 11

Big Idea –

We are only about six weeks from celebrating the Spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. In these appointed times of the LORD we celebrate our Messiah Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

The day described here in Mark 11 was the 10th of Nisan. God had told Moses to instruct the people of Israel to select a lamb on this day, to bring it into their homes, to inspect it and on the evening of the 14th to sacrifice it as their Passover Lamb (see: Ex. 12:1-6). Since that first Passover in Egypt, Israel had continued to remember God’s miracle of deliverance selecting a lamb on the 10th day in preparation of the LORD’S Passover.

Following the dedication of Solomon’s Temple and the prophetic rehearsals written by King David, the celebration of the Passover was well established as an annual routine all Jews were familiar with. Being one of the three pilgrim or foot feasts, Jerusalem was swelling with crowds of people coming in preparation of this festive time. Anticipation in the city was growing as on this 10th day the High Priest made his annual journey to Bethlehem to select the lamb that would be sacrificed for the nation. Late in the day he would return riding on a colt carrying the lamb into the city. Other priests and levites would welcome him waving palm branches crying out “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” As their cry was heard worshippers would come out of their homes filling the streets; they too would likewise begin waving palm branches joining in the festive song “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Yet this year Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a colt before the annual parade welcoming the return of High Priest with the lamb. This also helps explain why the religious leaders were so upset; the attention and celebration was upon Jesus’ arrival into the city instead of the High Priest still on his way back from Bethlehem. What had been rehearsed for centuries was now being fulfilled perfectly.

I don’t think Jesus had instructed anyone to begin crying out “Hosanna!” Instead, I believe that in the same way the Father revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, the Spirit began moving upon the hearts of the disciples and they began crying out as they had done all their lives, but now in fulfillment of Jesus’ coming as God’s Passover Lamb. And as they did people along the road and in their homes heard the cry and joined the procession shouting out all the louder, “Hosanna!”

It’s amazing all that David saw prophetically that was rehearsed each year at the LORD’s appointed times. HOSANNA means “save us now!” For centuries the people had called out to the LORD for His salvation, and now Jesus, seated on the colt as our High Priest, came into Jerusalem to offer Himself as God’s Passover Lamb, not only in answer to their cry for salvation, but also the salvation of all who would believe.

And so next Wednesday many orthodox Catholics and Christians will begin the season of lent in preparation for Easter. Our traditional celebration of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection are engrained within many of us as something we have done all our lives. I know how hard it can be to let go of these things.

Yet I believe the LORD is awakening His Church again to His appointed times. That just as the disciples saw the perfect fulfillment of these seasons in Jesus, so we too will so see the final fulfillment of the LORD’S appointed times.So whether you get an ashen cross placed on your forehead next week, or however you prepare yourself for the season before us, let me encourage you to as the Holy Spirit to make you aware of God’s times and seasons. And above all let us make this a season of overflowing joy for all God has accomplished through Jesus and will bring to fulfillment in His time!

A broken clock is right at least twice a day, but God’s eternal clock is still running right on time through His appointed times. May we hear the Spirit call us to join the cry, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” Soon we too shall see Him return, this time seated on a white horse with a banner “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).

Exemplify –

As the season of preparation for the LORD’S appointed times begins, I desire for the Holy Spirit to continue to teach me the truth about Jesus and enable me to live each day with overflowing joy for all the LORD has done for us.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, I thank You for coming as God’s Passover Lamb, that You loved me enough to not only die in my place, but to make me alive by the power of Your Spirit living in me. I pray that in the days and weeks to come that You will continue to enlighten my mind to Your truth; give me understanding through Your Word. And help me to lovingly make You known through Your appointed times in meaningful and relevant ways to others.

If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.