For much of the Christian world, Palm Sunday is a day of special commemoration. It marks Christ Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This was followed in a matter of days by his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. It was during this brief period that Jesus made a memorable statement of law-at least the Gospel of Mark places the statement as made at this time.
If you're familiar with the Bible, you may recall this exchange: a scribe asked Jesus, "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus, drawing on his knowledge of the Hebrew Scripture, replied, "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:28-31).
At this crucial time in his ministry, Jesus was the target of particularly intense hatred. Interestingly, his statement adds up to promoting one thing: love. Love for God. Love for one's neighbor. Possibly, there's significance not only in the statement itself but also in when Jesus made it. Almost certainly he was aware of what would be happening to him in just a few days. Perhaps he was speaking both to the scribe and to himself, voicing an actual law of God that he would draw on to sustain and deliver himself from all the hatred, animosity, jealousy, and misunderstanding about to be hurled at him, represented in crucifixion.
His example is all-important for every one of us today. The sustaining love Jesus needed, and found in God, is the sustaining love we need and will get as we follow his example. God's love for us is what saves us; the love we express to God and to others is what opens us up to His power. His love for us saves us from hatred, anger, fear-all the stuff any godless, hateful individual would seem to trade in. God's love for us renews us, lifts us up, encourages us. And it heals us.
In Jesus' statement concerning the two great commandments, the accent is on our love: for God and for our neighbor and for ourselves. This is something that takes thought-by-thought and act-by-act discipline. Here we discipline ourselves to turn from a carnal mentality, even one we may think of as unavoidably our own. And we discipline ourselves to turn to God, the true source of love.
God Himself is divine Love and the source of all true love. We don't generate it. We do express it. Even the love we pour out to God is in a sense born of God in the first place. We embody it. We live it. We reflect it. In doing so, we open ourselves up to all God has to impart. In order to know the love of God, we have to express love in our lives.
This is what Jesus did in Jerusalem. He loved with the love emanating from God. He must've known that to love is to live-that divine Love is divine Life. To identify oneself with God, as His reflection, is to identify with Life and Love because they are one. They are God. The law of Love that Jesus proclaimed that day in Jerusalem was what would preserve him and deliver him from Love's opposite, hate, and Life's opposite, death. The law of Love is the law of Life.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy is the Christian Science textbook. It makes plain the law of Love. The second chapter, "Atonement and Eucharist," is one of the most moving dissertations on Jesus' life ever written. It says of Jesus, "Through the magnitude of his human life, he demonstrated the divine Life. Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love. With the affluence of Truth, he vanquished error. The world acknowledged not his righteousness, seeing it not; but earth received the harmony his glorified example introduced" (p. 54).
Now that we on earth have received what his example introduced, it is our turn to be witnesses of the law of Love in action. We can commemorate Jesus' message by pouring out love to God and to our neighbor. In this way, we open ourselves to the saving, redeeming, healing power of God.