First and 10
2 to go…
“One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’”
It is Sunday – God first, but of course football.
Let’s think about football math. We all know that when our favorite team gets the ball they start their march down the field with a first and ten – first down and ten yards to go to get another first down. Going from first down to first down, the successful team works its way down the field until (if all goes well) thy score.
It can seem daunting, especially if you are starting at the far end of the field, with almost 100 yards to go against very strong opposition.
Now imagine if your team could get to that touchdown in two yards, in just two steps? It is first and ten, two to go.
Before the scribe came to Jesus the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, chief priests, and elders had been hammering Jesus with questions. Jesus’ answers didn’t matter to them at all. All that mattered was their ends – trapping Jesus and shutting Him down.
Scribes were a class of experts in the Mosaic Law, all 613 laws. This scribe seems sincere in coming to Jesus. He wants to hear how Jesus interprets the 613 laws, and which one He finds to be the greatest one.
Jesus shows the scribe that love of God and love of our brothers and sisters are the two most important commandments. He tells him that these two key commandments are the two yards He needs to go.
These two commandments depend on each other. We are to give our whole hearts to God who is love, and love Him completely. By loving God, and experiencing His love, we learn to love better, stronger, more completely. Eventually we learn to love like God loves. We must take our learning and apply it. Our love for God and His love for us cannot exist in a vacuum. It has to grow, toward others, drawing them into this relationship of love.
Sometimes people separate these two commandments, saying one or the other is what we really need to do. Jesus responded to the question: Which is the first, with two commandments. Jesus indicates an order – one comes first. But He also teaches us that the two are inseparable. Our lives and our faith must be based on love: on a relationship of love to God, and on the sharing of God’s love with others. Having only one misses the touchdown.
Love breaks down all opposition. Our touchdown is heaven – and it only takes two steps to get there, two steps and one theme – love.