Summary: This sermon explores what it means to love God.
In A Nutshell – Matthew 22: 34 – 46
Intro: When I hear someone use the expression, “explain it to me in a nutshell, I always think of Mr. & Mrs. Tarney who were our neighbors when I was a very small child. I loved going to their house, especially at Xmas – Walnuts on tree – filled with $. – so what does it mean to “put it in a nutshell?”
I. The expert in the law came to Jesus and asked Jesus to do just that. “Put what you believe about God in a nutshell.”
A. Some interesting things to ponder: 1) the meaning of “love”, 2) the meaning of “neighbor” and 3) why did Jesus apparently give two commands.
B. We live in an “easy answer I want it now” society. – Instant gratification - KISS
C. Volumes have been written about this passage; but, I’m going to put it in a nutshell for you this morning.
II. Why Jesus gave 2 commands? I don’t know! - though the language indicates they are really tied together as one.
A. Deut 6: 4 – 5 SHEMA – “Hear, O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your spirit and with all your strength.”
B. God’s love is unmanipulated, unconditional, and unlimited.
C. Not a feeling – commitment & action – God is committed to us and acts on our behalf.
III. How? --- How do I love God? --- Jesus showed in a nutshell how to love God.
A. Mrs. Hickey was my favorite teacher in grade school. I hated math; but, she always did the first problem with us on every homework assignment to show us how it should be done and somehow that made the others easier.
B Jesus quotes part of Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against on e of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” --- For many that is an impossible task for they not only don’t like their neighbor, they don’t like themselves.
C. Loving your neighbor doesn’t involve feelings; rather it involves commitment to them and action on their behalf.
Conclu: A pastor had gathered a selected group of workers to train them to witness for Jesus. A young worker was complaining to a veteran caller about one of the people he had visited. "I’ tried to tell him about Jesus, I tried to tell him about the love Jesus had for Him. I tried to tell him that Jesus was interested in helping him to live a life of grace, to help him with the burdens he was caring.
But the man replied in this manner, " I am a poor old man and must stagger under this load of firewood that I had so much trouble in cutting. I can feel nothing of the love of God. I can feel nothing of God caring for my burdens. I can feel nothing of his grace for me. "
The visitor turned to the young; depressed visitor and said, " My son, if you would have offered to carry his load of ’wood for him. He would have believed in your words because he would have not only have heard about ’the love of God for him, but he would have seen an illustration of it in you.’’ (Illustration by Tim Zingale on Sermon Central)
And that’s the gospel lesson, in a nutshell!