Jesus’ commandments, as you probably know, are few and far-between. And simple, and demanding, and life-changingly self-sacrificial.
His commentary on the Torah is that it was summed up in only two commandments. Get those right, and you don’t even have to put words to the rest.
His capstoning commandment is for us to love one another as He loves us.
A great ambition. An impossible achievement.
But He teaches detail. He goes into quite a bit of it, even just in the Sermon on the Mount. However, it isn’t so much detail as example. The examples illuminate principles that could be applied by any thinking child to the circumstances of her or his own life.
And he teaches by living out His examples. He helps others. Provides wine generously at a wedding party. Heals sick, broken and dead people. Feeds the hungry en masse. Casts out demonic spirits enslaving folks. Dandles children on His knee. Teaches that God loves us deeply, and would give anything – even His only Son – to be reconciled to his prodigal children. Then He becomes the reconciling sacrifice.
That’s The Story.
You’ve heard it before. You know what it is. You can tell it in as many words, or fewer, or more, or better.
He is the two summation commands.
He loves the Lord His God with all His heart and with all His soul and with all His mind and with all His strength.
He loves His neighbor as Himself.
That is the Torah of Christ.
Does He say anything about how we must worship? Yes, “in spirit and in truth.” And He sings a hymn with most of His closest friends on their last Passover eve together. Anything else? If so, point me to it.
Does He ever forbid a man or a woman from telling others about Him? No; in fact, He stays an extra day in Samaria because a woman has told her village about Him; the first persons to whom He appears resurrected are women who run to tell the others Whom they have seen.
Does He require attendance at assemblies of God’s people? No; He just goes. He reads in synagogue. He attends feasts at the temple. And on off-days, He gathers people in small groups and mountainside-filling multitudes to teach them how to love each other and how to love God.
Does He outline a hierarchy of church government? As nearly as I can tell, He establishes his church in a whirlwind of convicting, spirit-filled faith-sharing around the core of The Story. He breaks His kingdom into a world through ambassadors and embassies; outposts of faith. God is the King. We are His subjects.
Does He demand our baptism? No; He demands repentance, and then is Himself baptized to fulfill all righteousness. Then He undergoes the very barbaric death, the very pathos-laced burial in a borrowed tomb, and the very incredible-yet-undeniable resurrection which that baptism comes to signify.
Does He require the good confession? No; He simply makes it Himself before Pilate.
Does He threaten damnation if we do not agree upon every single way of thinking about His teaching? Oh, get real. He prays for God to make us one, because no one else can. And anyone else can ruin it. So He prays it as one of the last requests to leave His lips as a human being who can suffer pain and torture and humiliation and death:
“Father, may they be one.”
Is there anything else that He asks of us to do?
He asks us to go. Everywhere. Tell The Story. Build up faith in others. Baptize them into a reconciled relationship with God.
He leaves many of the details, the applications, the interpretations, the commentaries, and the responsibility for living out our faith pretty much up to us. Yet He does not leave us to do so alone. He gives us the gift of His Spirit, to comfort and encourage and convict and inspire our telling of the Story. He gives us each other, to love and to be accountable to and to be blessed by. He gives us prayer, a conduit of communication with God the Father Himself.
He leads us captives to freedom in His train, and gives us all these gifts.
So, is there really anything else that we can teach, any doctrine we can expound upon, any commentary we can make, any interpretation we can insist upon, any theology we can legislate, any judgment we can make that can be worthy of the time we spend neglecting the simple telling of The Story of the Torah of Christ?