Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
Matthew's version of the story seems to suggest that everything else is just details: It ends with Jesus telling his questioners, "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Throughout my younger days, I heard these lessons being read aloud at church. But they didn't really sink in until one Sunday morning when my kids were little. At that time I was a self-professed agnostic who had long before rejected most Christian dogma, on grounds that it seemed fabricated from whole cloth.
That Sunday, as I was idly flipping through the Bible during the sermon, I encountered the Great Commandment story. I had something of a eureka moment on a small scale: "That's what it's all about -- it makes perfect sense."
Not all Christians feel this way. Some claim that to be "saved," you must do more than simply follow the Great Commandment -- you must also have a personal relationship with Jesus; or accept the supremacy, and perhaps even the inerrancy, of Scripture; or accept Jesus as your personal savior; or subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion; or invite Jesus into your life; or be baptized by immersion, as opposed to by sprinkling; etc., etc. The Great Commandment story, however, suggests that Jesus seems to have had a different view.
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Postscript: I'd be remiss if I failed to note that the Great Commandment's component parts come straight from the Hebrew Bible, in Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18. In Luke's account, immediately after proclaiming the Great Commandment, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, thus expanding the definition of "neighbor" to include not just one's own people (per Leviticus), but even despised aliens such as Samaritans.