On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Doing Versus Believing
How Jesus responded to this question is interesting. When tested by an expert in God’s Old Testament law, Jesus was not offended. The man’s question was important because it was about eternal life with God.
But his question showed that he thought eternal life was something to be earned: “What needs to be done, Jesus? Give me the divine to-do list!” Jesus answered with a test of his own, “What did God say in his law?”
The expert replied: “Love God above everything and love your neighbor as yourself.” That was a correct answer that sounds very simple. The problem is that it is an impossible way to live.
It probably would not take much time to remember things you have loved more than God. Likewise, you probably don’t need to try very hard to remember times you have loved yourself more than the people around you.
So, if you want to inherit eternal life by your own effort, you are placing yourself under a standard you can never meet. That expert in the law could not do it, and neither can you. No one can. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Jesus was trying to get the man to understand that inheriting eternal life has nothing to do with following God’s laws but everything to do with believing in God’s Son.
Because Jesus was always focused on his mission as our Savior. He not only taught God’s law, he also obeyed it perfectly because we cannot. Every law is complete in Christ, and “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Lord God, forgive me for my lack of love and give me faith in your Son, my Savior. Amen.