You must follow exactly the path that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live. – Deuteronomy 5:33
Jesus said to the lawyer, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” – Luke 10:26–28
We are in the process of some major renovations at St. John. This involves work on three different buildings and a parking lot. It also involves a large number of specifications, plans, construction documents, and decisions relating to electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, finishes, equipment, and scheduling. All this subject to very strict county code requirements and permitting processes. If the “T’s” aren’t crossed appropriately or the “I’s” not dotted properly things can come to a complete standstill.
In Deuteronomy Moses tells the people of Israel that they must “follow exactly the path that the Lord” has laid out for them to follow. Exactly. Is that I not dotted properly? Stop. Is that T not crossed correctly? Go no further.
In Jesus’ day the Jewish lawyers had this down to a science in the extreme. In addition to all the laws of Moses they had constructed an extra set of rules which were designed to prevent people from breaking the other laws. Jesus, however, challenged them in this regard saying that they were all too prone to follow the minutia of these extra laws while ignoring the weightier matters of the law (cf. Matthew 23:23).
Those weightier matters had to do with loving one’s neighbor, which flows out of our love for God. In these verses above Moses’ command to follow God’s commands exactly is clarified by Jesus’ commendation to the lawyer,“You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
The lawyer had recited the Great Commandment: Love God. Love your neighbor. These two commands summarize the 10 Commandments. Do this and you will life we are told.
If we rely on our own righteousness in keeping the commands of God we have little hope – unless God forgives us when we fail. By faith we claim the perfect righteousness and obedience of Christ. Having been forgiven and redeemed from the curse of the Law, we are called to follow the way of life by obeying the commands of God. We may never do this perfectly, but we must not neglect God’s commands, for that is the way of life.