Love Trumps Law

by Tim Spooner

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2:8)

Do you know why Jesus got on the nerves of the Pharisees, Sadducees and other religious people of his day? Do you know why those same religious people tended to repel the “sinners,” those caught in adultery, the tax collectors, the Samaritans, the women, the poor, and the other outsiders?

Do you know why Jesus instead attracted those people?

It’s because there are opposing focuses and priorities at play here. These religious folks were focused on “the Law”—codes of morality and ethics, do’s and don’ts, associate and don’t associate, eat this and don’t eat that, wear this and don’t wear that, and other outwardly focused signs of holiness.

They got very upset and felt threatened when Jesus challenged their rules. They thought everyone would be better off and God would be happy if only everyone followed all the rules. They saw themselves as the guards of God’s Law and the protectors of God’s holiness that it might not be tainted.

Jesus, on the other hand, was focused on people. He was focused on real, individual hearts and lives of real people. He said that LOVE TRUMPS LAW. When he saw religious rules that were not helpful in particular situations, he dismissed the rules and helped the people.

Jesus’ priority was always responding to individual needs and caring for people.

When Jesus’s disciples were hungry on the Sabbath, Jesus allowed them to pick grain to snack on as they walked along a field. He declared that people are more important than the Sabbath laws, even though keeping the Sabbath comes right from the Ten Commandments of God.

When Jesus met a man needing healing during a Sabbath meeting, Jesus healed him and declared that healing people trumps law-keeping.

When a leper who knew no contact from people due to the law came across Jesus, Jesus not only healed the man but also met the man’s deepest need — to be touched by another human. Jesus did not let holiness codes keep this man from receiving a life-giving embrace.

Jesus gave the man a life-giving touch and declared that caring for people is more important than codes of holiness.

When the religious rule-enforcing authorities caught a woman in the act of adultery and picked up stones to destroy her, Christ Jesus intervened on her behalf. He declared humility and a sense of humanity is more important than holding people accountable to the law of God.

Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God where the Royal Law is Love.

These rule-oriented religious people were offended by the extravagant love and grace of Christ and his Father. They hung Christ on the cross for showing the untempered love of God toward people and they crucified the Son of God for showing that God identifies with people rather than laws.

As for me, I will follow the way of Christ Jesus.

I will follow Jesus’ path of loving people. I will follow the Royal Law of his great Kingdom that trumps all other laws.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

Originally published at God’s Rainbow Revolution; Photo via flickr user Marcelino Rapayla Jr.

Comments (1)


What a complete nonsense and
What a complete nonsense and a misreading of Jesus’ relationship with the law! Loving people does not mean endorsing or affirming everything they do, and Jesus was more strict than the Pharisees at many points. Didn’t Jesus tell the woman to leave her life of sin? And didn’t he say that his disciples are those who follow his teaching?

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