The Lord requires obedience to ALL of what He says. When Jesus responded to the man’s question, He implied yet another essential aspect of a disciple’s obedience that we often neglect. When the man replied to Jesus’ simple call for obeying God’s commands, “He said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ Jesus said, ‘”You shall not murder,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”’” (Mt. 19:18–19).
The Lord’s answer shows both the focus of the young man and the nature of his query. Jesus quoted five of the ten commandments—all centered on the treatment of other people—and then added the principle behind these things: loving your neighbor (Ex. 20:12-16; Lev. 19:18). This last quotation matters, because it is all-encompassing. The young man was wanting a specific, limited command to ensure his salvation. Jesus instead gave Him a general, expansive principle that lies at the heart of living a life of obedience for God (Jas. 1:22-25). Therefore, Jesus here taught not only a specific lesson about obedience but also a general lesson about living up to the principles of God’s Word instead of living down to its necessities.
This distinction placed miles of separation between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees, though not in the way many typically assume. Jesus did not reject the call for obedience on what the Mosaic Law said; He reiterated it. But then He called for a higher obedience yet, an obedience to the divinely revealed principles of Scripture as solid and firm as obedience to the most straightforward and simple of commands. By doing so, Jesus moves our attention from focusing on the obvious good and the obvious evil to seeking the highest good through the engraining of God’s character on our hearts. Jesus does not simply expect His disciples not to murder; He expects them to control their anger (Mt. 5:21-26). He does not just expect His disciples to shun adultery; He expects us to show love, commitment, and sacrifice in marriage (Mt. 5:27-32; Eph. 5:22-25; Tit. 2:4). Jesus does not only expect us not to steal; He commands us to give to others in need (Eph. 4:28; Mt. 5:38-42). He not only expects us to testify truthfully; He calls on us to speak the truth consistently (Mt. 5:33-37). Jesus does not want His disciples to make excuses for neglecting their parents; He expects them to honor them in reality (Mk. 7:9-13). Moreover, He does not call for us just to love those closest to us, but to love all men—no matter how difficult they may make it for us to do so (Mt. 5:43-47).
It takes discipline to be a disciple–the discipline to listen, carefully and completely; the discipline to trust, patiently and fully; and the discipline to obey, lovingly and diligently. Jesus Himself said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). The Lord does not make exceptions for our obedience; He takes exception to our disobedience.
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