Your Plan for 2024

Commit to read the New Testament in 2024. Just one chapter every weekday, accompanied by a short devotional here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

January 30 - Matthew 22

Key Verse: Matthew 22:40

Big Idea: The whole Law of God’s Kingdom is built on love.

One of my favorite snacks is stovetop popcorn. Pouring the oil, salt and corn into the Whirly Pop and cranking it while unimpressive kernels become beautiful vessels for butter is a very soothing ritual. I also love spicy food, so one of my favorite things to do for popcorn is to add Julio’s seasoning mix and Tabasco sauce. If everything is not just right, the Tabasco will caramelize on the bottom of the pan, and instead of having popcorn that is lightly spicy throughout, you will have dark little chunks of spice, where the sauce has condensed. Those little chunks are salty and spicy - they are Tabasco sauce, intensified.

If you took the Bible, and boiled it down to its very essence, what would you have? Not animal sacrifices or elaborate rituals, which Hebrews says could never get to the real problem. Not holidays, that pointed forward to coming events or remembered past ones. When they were testing Him in our chapter, Jesus said you would have the greatest commandment: to love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. The second is of the same essence: love your neighbor as yourself. Boiled down, the essence of the Bible is love.

Both elements of the Bible have this same theme: the narrative of the Bible is the story of how, despite humanity’s rebellion, God’s love never stopped pursuing us, ultimately to a cross. The commandments of the Bible are all carried out by a person full of love. We do not murder or steal from those we love, and will not blaspheme or worship idols if we love God. The two commandments are of the same essence, because it is not possible for us to love God without loving our neighbor made in His image, and impossible for us to love our neighbor without the enabling love of God.

Discussion idea: How does love relate to each of the 10 commandments? (Exodus 20) Do you find it hardest to love God with your heart, your mind or your soul (your will/choices)? Why?

Prayer focus: Pray for the ability to recognize God’s love, and to respond with love for Him and each other.

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