By Jerelyn Wright Pearson


God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, his Son who was with him from the beginning, to experience the life we live so that we may experience eternal life with him. He gave his Son as an example of his perfect love.

One of the experiences Jesus accomplished during his life on earth was to fulfill the requirements of the law. Perfect obedience is necessary to please God. It had become clear that mankind was incapable of obeying the law. In fact, the law was given to show us how far short we fall from perfect obedience. Not only did Jesus fulfill the letter of the law, but he also fulfilled the spirit of the law. Throughout his life on earth he raised the standard of the law to a higher level.

The law said: Thou shalt not kill.
Jesus said: Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause is in danger of the judgement.

The law said: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Jesus said: Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

The law said: You shall not swear falsely.
Jesus said: Swear not at all… but let your communication be, Yea yea; Nay, nay.

The law said: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
Jesus said: Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn ho him the other also.

Jesus said: If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

Jesus said: Whoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Concerning Love, in Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus said,

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Jesus obeyed the law to a higher standard. He always raised the bar. He commands us to do the same. Love your neighbors and love your enemies.

In Matthew 22:36-40 we learn of the greatest commandment.

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself is one of the two greatest commandments. This is indeed a high standard. It is human nature to love ourselves. We go to great lengths to protect and care for ourselves in order to survive and have a good life. To show that same level of love for others is quite challenging. It is challenging enough to love our neighbors as ourselves, even more so to love our enemies as ourselves. When Jesus walked among us, he raised this standard to an even higher level, first by his example and then by expecting the same of us.

In 1 John 2:7-8 John explains why it is possible for us to achieve a higher standard.

7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

Because of his true light shining in the world, the darkness is past. In that darkness, loving thy neighbor as thyself was the ultimate level of love. With his presence of true light a higher level of love is not only made possible, but is made a commandment.

Shortly after Judas went out from the last supper, The Gospel of John records that Jesus said these words.

John 13:33-35
33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.

(Once again Jesus raises the bar.)

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Our ultimate expression of love is to obey this commandment, “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”  How can we possibly achieve this highest standard of love?

Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. At this point they did not understand the sacrifice he would soon make.

The Gospel of John records these words of Jesus.

John 14:12-18
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

It is possible for us to obey this higher standard of love because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to abide with us and in us forever.

The Gospel of John records Jesus continuing to instruct his disciples.

John 15:4-5, 8-17
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. Because he abides in us and we abide in him, we can bring forth much fruit! At this point he restates his commandment.

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Jesus would pay the ultimate sacrifice of love.

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

Throughout Jesus’ life on earth, he raised the standards set by the law, providing a perfect example for us to follow. He has shown us how to love one another including our enemies, not only as we love ourselves, but as he loves us. As we read and study his written Word, we abide in him and he abides in us. We have his Holy Spirit dwelling within us, teaching us, guiding us, and reminding us of how to share his perfect love each day in every circumstance as we continue to walk in the love of God.



Presented Nov 29, 2020 in French Settlement, Louisiana