Thursday, 17 May 2012
Did you file your income taxes on time? If you didn’t, I hope you were aware of what is called an “automatic extension.” There is a simple form that you can fill out and file it by the tax deadline, requesting an automatic extension to file your taxes. It doesn’t give you extra time to pay your taxes, but just to file the form. They call it an automatic extension because it is automatic. You will not be turned down. Everyone is eligible for an automatic extension to file his or her taxes.
But eternal life is not an automatic extension of your physical life.
One day an expert on Jewish law asked Jesus what is probably the most important question anyone will ever ask or answer: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Since the man who asked the question was a lawyer (or scribe), Jesus put the ball back in his court by asking, "What does the law say? How do you read it?"
If anyone should have known the answer to such an important theological question, it should have been the Jewish scribe who spent his time copying the Old Testament law, explaining it, and telling people how to obey it.
The scribe knew the textbook answer and parroted it back: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus told the man he was correct.
According to the scribe, and Jesus affirmed his answer, in order to have eternal life you must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and you must love your neighbor as yourself.
That’s all you have to do to inherit eternal life.
And therein lies the problem. None of us is able to perfectly love God and perfectly love our neighbor.
And that's why we need Jesus. Where we fall short of God's glory, Jesus was full of God's glory. Where we miss the mark, Jesus hit the bull's-eye. Where we fail to love God and people, Jesus died on the cross to show His love for the Father and His love for you. He perfectly fulfilled the law, God's law.
God wants you to love Him with all your heart and to love people as much as you love yourself. But while you are struggling with that, why don't you go ahead and trust Jesus to forgive you . . . and give you eternal life?
If you will place your faith in Jesus, I promise that you will be much more excited about loving God and loving people. That's what the Gospel does for us. It motivates us and empowers us to do what we could never do on our own without Jesus.