It may be that the injunction toward prayer is the single Command of Jesus we most readily witness throughout the earth. Christians pray, Jews pray, Muslims pray. Even many who profess no religion yet claim to pray. It is an astonishing fact to contemplate that more than half of mankind probably prays regularly in some fashion. It is surely no exaggeration to say that prayer is being lifted to the heavens every second round the clock. Mankind is a praying species. The earth is a praying world.
We come after a few days to a small town in the hills away from the coast...
Jesus makes two of the most shocking statements of his ministry on the night before his death. They are recounted only by the Gospelist John. Though Matthew was also there that evening, it clearly took not only an eyewitness, but one like John with particular insight into the Lord's heart, to capture the powerful essence of this pivotal message that Jesus wanted to leave with his disciples on his last night with them.
I decide to accompany him when he leaves the place where I first went out to meet him. He and his friends are on the move again--walking, traveling, venturing by boat up one of the rivers or along the shore. I am one of them now...
The first three gospels all report variations of the incident in which Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment. If we were truly obedient sons and daughters of God, there would be no need for anything else to be said. We would have no need for the other more specific commandments. Love God and love man sums up everything.
Many perplexities present themselves. Though it has only been a little over 24 hours since I followed the crowd out into the street and found myself suddenly face-to-face with the man at the center of the storm, so much in my life has changed.
The Command to 'Love God' is at root vague and ambiguous. How are we to love God? Is such love something we feel? How many of us have read the words 'with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,' and not felt that perhaps our love for God is not filled with the all-consuming level of devotion that Jesus spoke of. The practicality of it is hard to get hold of.
Clearing the preconceptions from our mental slates is not as easy as it might seem...
It is surprising at first approach to the Commands of Jesus to discover that the command to "love" is not the most frequently given injunction to fall from his mouth. But it is surely the most pivotal and central command laid upon his followers which summarizes and incorporates and draws up into it all his teaching, and all the Commands.
Wherever you and I find ourselves at this moment, we share something in common in connection with the man Jesus Christ.