This is based primarily on His affirmation of “The Golden Rule”: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’ [Matthew 7:12]. Jesus also said it in the way of the Hebrew Scriptures: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ [Leviticus 19:18].
This Golden Rule is held up by most cultures and peoples as the highest ethic, the foundation for “good” society, and therefore Jesus is esteemed by believers and unbelievers alike for His emphatic teaching on this.
But here is the issue… Jesus called this ethic the ‘second’ commandment, which is “like the first”. What is the first commandment?
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” [Deuteronomy 6:5]
If “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” is the ‘Golden Rule’, here is the ‘Platinum Rule’ in Jesus’ teaching. But it’s not popular or considered worthy by a world that values other gods and idols as worthier (and therefore worshipful) than the LORD God.
“One thing is needed” [Luke 10:42] Jesus told Martha as Mary sat listening intently to Him. What is this one thing? Luke goes on to record Jesus teaching His disciples about prayer, about being in living relationship with the living LORD – listening intently as the feet of our LORD.
If Jesus is esteemed as a Good Teacher, then we should also heed His teaching on loving our enemies. This radical ethic is emphasised as Jesus told a Jewish scholar the story of the Good Samaritan. The Jewish scholar had asked “Who is my neighbour?” [Luke 10:29]. Jesus showed him how even his enemy was his neighbour – and that he should go and do likewise. This is radical love – then and now.
If we understand Jesus to be a Good Teacher, let us take heed of the words of Paul in Philippians 2:1-11. If we find anything good in Jesus, then why aren’t we following Him, and more so, His example? He is the highest example of humility, obedience to the LORD, even to death on a cross. His teaching was a reflection of His love of the LORD, and His earthly life was lived in whole and holy obedience to the mission He came here for – to open the way for you and I to follow Him, to live out the “one thing”, and then to love our neighbour as ourselves – even if they are in opposition to us, hate us, and especially if we are moved with anger toward them. Let us love them, as Jesus spoke and prayed on the cross about those who hated Him.
Jesus’ teaching doesn’t endorse or elevate teaching from human experience or desire as being “good”, and does not validate the beliefs of other religions or spiritual paths. He explicitly warns His followers to beware of all that ensnares and threatens our love for the LORD our God with all we have. For our love for others springs from our love for God, especially when we are mindful of disagreement and antipathy towards “them”.
In Jesus’ teaching, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” follows “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”