Proper 26

Last week we heard about Jesus and one of his final exams.  The first test was sort of a short answer question about whether paying taxes to Cesar was just. Jesus left his opponents mouth ajar when he turned the tables on them.


And his opponents went away astonished.


His second test, one we don’t read on a Sunday, was about resurrection.  With the Pharisees head spinning, the Sadducees, a different group, stepped up to challenge Jesus. They wanted to know about resurrection and gave Jesus a multiple-choice test.  Jesus, seeing no correct answer, drew a circle next to his own answer and filled it in.

And his opponents went away astonished.


Today we have another multiple-choice test except there are 613 choices.


The Pharisees have regained their composure and are about to take their last shot.


They step up to Jesus and ask, of the 613 laws in our scriptures, which one is the most important.


When we hear the word commandments we think about the ten commandments.



But the Pharisees are trying to get Jesus to pick from not only the Ten Commandments but from laws like:

You shall not eat meat boiled in the milk of its mother. (That means no cheese burgers)


Make sure to include salt in your sacrifices


No poly-cotton blends


The Pharisee’s want to trap Jesus and make him choose from this large list of small laws. The reality is that if Jesus chooses any of these small laws, the Pharisees would be able to make an argument against him.


They wanted to keep Jesus small.


And while these laws had their place in their time for some now still do,


Jesus doesn’t want to pick one of those little laws.


He responds to them with a very small list of big laws.


He points us towards something bigger.





Jesus replies that the reality of all the laws is this: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.


When he calls for love, he points back


He points back to a place before time.


The place when God was creating the world.


Where the love of between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit poured out into time and space and made the universe.


And there was so much love that God thought maybe we could make something that could receive some this abundant love.


So people were made.


And God so loved the world.


But people were having a tough time loving each other.


When God saw this, he gave them some rules to help them love each other.


But he loved them so much he decided to send something better.




And so


Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas

Star and angels gave the sign.


And this love that was born was named Jesus.


So when Jesus is asked what the most important commandment is


What is the one action we should all have at the top of our priority list


His answer is




Today Jesus is trying to teach us how to love.


Love God, love one another.

Jesus matches these to commandments up because they help each other, they go together, they’re part of the same process.


When we love God, we are better able to love each other.


When we learn to love the divinity of God we learn to see the divinity in each other.


When we love something mysterious like God we are less likely to fear and more likely to love the mysterious in one another.


When we love God, love becomes possible.


When we love God well we love one another well.


When we love one another we can see with our own eyes how it can bring life back to the broken hearted and hope the lost.


When we love one another the love of God which can feel, at times, distant is brought near.


When we love one another love becomes real.


When we love one another well, we love God well.


And they went away astonished.


Oofdah.  That’s it. Jesus’ received no more questions from the Herodians, the scribes, the Pharisees, the Saducees, nor any other see.


So now that Christ is done with his final exams maybe we should start looking at our own homework.



This weekend I had the pleasure of being with some our St. Alban’s family in Des Moines at Diocesan Convention.


It was a weekend wherein we learned a lot but nothing more important than this:

If it’s not about love, it’s not about Jesus.


So when we wonder, like the Pharisees, what would God have us do, maybe we should start with love.


I want you to take a chance with me and try this out:

Repeat after me:

God loves me.

God loves me.

God loves me.


Now look to your neighbor and say God loves you


Look to another neighbor and say God loves you too.


Your homework for this week is this:


Take five minutes of one morning this week and sit in a comfortable position and dwell with this reality:

God loves me

God loves me

God loves me


And then later that day either aloud or silently find five people and say:

God loves you

God loves you

God loves you.


If you can’t say it aloud think as loud as you can


That is how we keep Jesus’ great commandment.


At least that’s how we start.


We start where it all started


With love.

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