Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent 2021 - First Table of the Law (Anderson)

February 18 – Pastor Anderson

“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment’” (Matthew 22:36–38). All of us know that idolatry is explicitly forbidden by God’s Law. Thus, the first three commandments are directed toward our relationship with our Creator. How shall we love the Lord our God? “You shall have no other gods.” “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” All of these commandments show us how to love the Lord our God rightly.

            It makes complete sense that God will not allow any rivals to stand in His presence. He is a jealous God who takes no competition in our hearts. We often say that this commandment deals with false gods such as Allah or Krishna, but the root of our idolatry goes much deeper than this. Perhaps the greatest idolatry in our American culture is the idolatry of self. We are so self-dependent that we just have no room for God and His gifts in our lives. The First Commandment removes all other idols in our lives, including the idol of ourselves.

            Out of respect for our gracious and loving God, whom we love above all others, we honor His name. God gave us His name so that we might know and follow Him, call upon it in prayer and praise, and proclaim it to the world. We are prone to using it so flippantly, as part of a curse word or shallow act of praise. God’s name, which includes His reputation and honor, must be holy upon our lips. We were baptized in His name. We sing praises to His name. We glorify His name by our words.

            As part of our respect for God, we honor the special day of rest that He has created. Although God no longer requires us to observe the Sabbath day, we still honor Him by partaking of His gift of rest. We need physical rest for our bodies and spiritual rest for our souls. We find that rest in Jesus, so we regularly set aside time to hear God’s Word and receive His gifts. This is not an obligation that we do begrudgingly. It is a gift He gives because Sabbath is good for us. It is also a hit against our idolatry of our own labor, since we sometimes believe that our work is more important than God’s.

            These first three commandments speak to the necessity of honoring our God and His gifts above all else. Priorities will need to be altered if we are to keep these commandments from our God. The question that we must ask ourselves is this: do I really fear, love, and trust in God above all else? Grant that we may do so, dear Father in heaven.

February 19
Read Mark 2

February 20 & 21
Read Sunday’s Lectionary Readings and attend Divine Service

Genesis 22:1-18
Psalm 25:1-10
James 1:12-18
Mark 1:9-15