Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honour thy father and thy mother…
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet…any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

COMMENTARY

Moses’s ten commandments are far more verbose than Jesus’s two. Even after reducing the record in Exodus 20 to its most succinct form, as I have done here, it weighs in at 76 words, while the full text of Jesus’s guidance is a mere 28.
And yet Jesus states that his two commandments encapsulate the entirety of the others. And not only of these ten…

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Notice that Jesus says his two commandments are the points upon which all of the law hangs and upon which all of the teachings of the prophets depend. The ten commandments is not the entirety of the law and prophets, they are only the briefest summary of a much, much larger body!

If you read out the entirety of the five books of Moses, the Torah that forms the foundation of Jewish Law, you will find that it is overflowing with commandments. Depending on where exactly you draw the lines between where one law ends and another begins the total comes to about 613 commandments in all!

And that’s just five books of scripture. Other commandments get added all throughout the rest. And on top of those there are additional thousands of pieces of wisdom and advice, things that may not be explicitly declared as commandments but which counsel us on how to live.

Is it any wonder that Jesus felt a need to simplify such a monument of instruction? And make no mistake, it is not that he is abbreviating all of the other commandments, it is that he is explaining the reason behind all of them. Simply put, God has not given us any instruction that falls outside of the umbrella of either:

  1. Loving Him with all your heart, soul, and mind
  2. Loving your neighbor as yourself

And between those two commandments there is a single common trait, the reason behind the reasons. It is a word that we frankly tend to forget as soon as we start talking about commandments. Love.

Let’s take a look at that more with tomorrow’s post.

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