THE WEEK OF TRINITY XVIII – MONDAY
LESSON: 1 SAMUEL 16:1-7
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus means to say here: He who has kept these two commandments dealing with the love of God and the love of one’s neighbor, has everything, and he has also fulfilled the Law. For the whole Law and the prophets concentrate on these two issues, namely, how one should love God and how one should love one’s neighbor.
There may be those who feel inclined to wonder how everything depends on these two commandments when people like the Jews were given circumcision and many other laws which cannot so easily be related to these two chief commandments. In replying, we should note first of all how Christ explains obedience to the Law. He says that we must obey it from the heart.
For Christ, obedience to the Law is something spiritual. He who does not obey the Law from his heart and tackle it with his spirit, will never fulfil it. Hence the Lord here sets before the lawyers the basis and kernel of the Law, saying that the chief commandment of the Law is to love God from the heart and one’s neighbor as oneself.
It follows from this that anyone who does not keep the Law from the heart is not really circumcised, does not fast and does not pray, even if he does perform such acts externally. External performances without obedience of the heart are nothing before God. God looks at the heart and not merely at the external work or appearance. It does not help a man to perform any number of works if his heart is not engaged thereby.
PRAYER: Lord God, heavenly Father, grant your people grace to serve you with pure hearts and minds in obedience to your holy Law, and with firm confidence in your Gospel, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 5:169-183