So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. Galatians 2:19
I have always thought that Jesus was a “lightning rod” for public opinion and criticism. What I mean by that is, people are not really neutral about Jesus. One is forced to take a side and have an opinion when it comes to Jesus. You love his message and live it out, or you reject his message and live a self-directed life.
During his ministry, Jesus did not shy away from controversy. He challenged people in the way that they looked at God. That is, you love God by loving other people. He called out the religious leaders of the Jews and explained to them very clearly how they had missed the mark. Specifically, he did not like religious leaders who leaned into the letter of the Law to the exclusion of those for whom the Law was written.
People who rigidly favored strict interpretation of the Law over the needs of people were singled out by Jesus as examples of those who had missed the mark. Many parables of Jesus remarked about the failure of those leaders to love others. Those leaders then justified their behavior by the letter of the Law. They had failed to see why the Law was even written.
When I wrote my novels about Joseph Shepherd, I saw him as a type of Jesus. That is, when he showed up in 17th and 19th century history, he was treated by people as shabbily as Jesus was treated in the first century. That happened because people either loved or hated Joseph Shepherd. Eventually, Shepherd was persecuted by his contemporaries, even though he loved people, served them, and always tried to live by a moral code. Because of that, he was reviled and rejected by those who perhaps felt judged by his very presence.
So, let’s think of Jesus as the radical that he was. He challenged mainstream Judaic Law with the true fulfillment of it. Because of that, he was rejected, and ultimately crucified.
Prayer: Lord, help us to see past the barriers that stop us from showing love to others, Amen