The main thing is love.

A Call to Christian Living –

Love One Another

Mark 12:28-34

Matthew 10:28-39

Mark 10:17-27

Luke 7:36-50

John 11:5-36

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A women washes Jesus' feet. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Mark 12:28-34 (3/19/12)

One of my former bosses had a saying from Stephen Covey on his door:
We’ve been talking for several weeks about many different aspects of Christian behavior, but the main thing is love.

Matthew 10:28-39 (3/20/12)

Years ago, I heard a sermon in which the preacher said that early in his ministry he realized that he loved his wife more than he loved God.  He knew it should be the other way around, but as hard as he tried, he still loved his wife more than he loved God.  Finally he prayed, “God, I don’t love you more than I love my wife, but I want to.”  He told us that after praying that prayer, he did come to love God more than he loved his wife.

We love our families – our children, our parents, our spouses, our brothers and sisters – so much!  Jesus says, love God even more than that:  that’s what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

And by the way, in Luke 14:26, Jesus says that whoever comes to him must “hate” his family members.  Love/hate is a Jewish
idiom for love more/love less; Luke 14:26 means the same as Matthew 10:37.  Christians love their families.

Mark 10:17-27 (3/21/12)

Much has been made of the difference between agape love and philia love.  For the record, when Jesus looks at the young man and loves him, the word is agapao, the verb form of agape.  But as near as I can tell, agape and philia are interchangeable.  

True, agape is mostly used in verses about Christian love, but to be fair, that’s mostly what the New Testament is about.  Agapao is also used in Luke 11:43 when the Pharisees love the best seats, in John 12:43 when they love of the praise of men, in 2 Timothy 4:10 when Demas loves the present world, and in 2 Peter 2:15 when Balaam loves of the wages of unrighteousness.

Phileo is used much less frequently, but it is used, for example, in John 5:20, when the Father loves  the Son; I don’t think we can possibly translate that as “The Father likes the Son.”

So the important thing is that Christians and Jews love God and love their neighbors.  Don’t let anyone confuse you about whether agape or philia is appropriate in a particular situation, because the answer is “yes.”

Luke 7:36-50 (3/22/12)

Here’s the thing about Christian love:  loving actions are more important than loving words.  No doubt when the Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner, he was polite, possibly even flattering.  When Jesus arrived, he must have said words of welcome.  But that was as far as it went:  he provided no water for Jesus’ feet, no oil for his head, no embrace – all of which were basic courtesies.

In contrast, the (previously) sinful woman apparently said nothing, which is probably right because in that culture unrelated men and women didn’t talk to each other.  She did, however, wash and dry Jesus’ feet, kiss them, and anoint them with perfume.  Jesus didn’t say anything to Simon about his rudeness until Simon was offended by the woman’s actions.  At that time, however, Jesus pointed out that it was the woman, not Simon, who had shown love for him.

p.s.  There’s no scriptural basis whatsoever for the idea that this woman was
Mary Magdalene.

John 11:5-36 (3/23/12)

In reading the story of Jesus and Lazarus, we  may ask, “If Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why did he wait for two days before going to Bethany?  Wouldn’t it have been easier for Jesus to save his life if he had gone right away?”

Actually, he couldn’t have saved him.  Lazarus was already dead when Jesus got the message.  Charles R. Erdman explains it this way in his commentary, The Gospel of John:
Even though Lazarus was dead by the time the messenger arrived, and even though people in Judea wanted to kill him, Jesus returned to raise Lazarus from the dead.  Why?  Because Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  He loves you, too.

More about Living the Christian Life
A Call to Christian Living
Christ-Centered Community
Charitable Giving
Christlike Compassion
Christ-Led Courage
Living So It Shows
Overcoming Sin
Sharing the Good News
Who Is Your Legacy?
Five Spiritual Disciplines
Christian Character
New Life and New Standards
Living in the World
Love One Another
Again, Love One Another
And as a Final Word, Love One Another

Copyright 2012, 2021 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

The illustration showing a woman washing Jesus' feet is from the Binns family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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