Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
The commandments from Exodus 20 are often listed, often memorized, and often at the center of debate. If Jesus fulfilled the commandments of God, does the listing in this chapter still apply? In a religiously pluralistic society is it permissible to post these commands in a public place? And, for that matter, because we seem to have decided without a doubt that there are ten commands here, how do we divide them up? Is the one about making an image included in the one about having no other gods? Is the one about coveting your neighbor’s house separate from the one about your neighbor’s wife and others in the household? Are there really eleven? That would mess up the marketing plan in operation at Hobby Lobby!
The New Testament sums up the commands of God in a very simple way. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself. notice that the passage in Exodus 20 divides conveniently that way. The first three commands (as we number them historically) all speak to our relationship with God. We can view them as vertical commandments. They deal with our attitude about God’s person, name, and having a day of rest to honor God. The remaining seven all speak to our relationship with other people. They are horizontal. Love God, love your neighbor.
Many people in the more liturgical traditions will remind us that the commandements, then, fall into the shape of the cross. As we consider the first table, the vertical part of the cross can be drawn. Our relationship with God is paramount. As we consider the second table, the horizontal part of the cross can be drawn. Our relationship with our world depends on the relationship with God. And through it all, we remember that we have failed to keep these commandments. For this reason, as we read in the New Testament, Jesus hung on the cross for us, for our sin, showing us that he truly loves God and loves his neighbor, and that we are his neighbor. As we trust in Jesus, he gives us life and hope, knowing that he has conquered death on our behalf and risen from the dead to new life. We recall the commands, we recall the Christ who kept the commands, and we ask for mercy to love God and love our neighbor.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.