One summer when I was ten years old I spent a week with my grandmother in Western Arkansas. At the end of the week my mother came to pick me up. While we were still visiting, I forget what I said to my mother, but it must have not have been too nice, because I will never forget what my grandmother said to me. She said, “You don’t talk to your mother that way.” I thought she was going to follow it up with something like, she is bigger than you or the boss of you or something like that be she didn’t. She finished by saying, “You don’t talk that way to someone who would die for you.” Wow.
That has always stayed with me, and even when performing wedding ceremonies, I share that story and encourage the new family always to remember, even in disagreements that you are still disagreeing with someone who would die for you. So at least let’s make it a friendly disagreement.
The reason we put no other gods before us, is not because God is bigger than us or the boss of us, but because He loves us enough to die for us. In the same spirit we honor our parents and are faithful to our spouses. The spirit of the law is, others first. That is also the spirit of Jesus on the cross.
Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” Luke 23:32-35 NLT
While Jesus had every right to call ten thousand angels to His rescue, or turn His persecutors to dust and escape, one simple thing held Him back. Saving Himself and letting others perish, which would have been putting Himself first, simply was not in His character. His character is “others first.” The law is others first, too. When Jesus refused to save Himself on the cross, He was fulfilling the law on the cross, not abolishing it. The law, which says, “others first” was established on the cross. The law is the gospel! The law puts others first. There are commandments about putting God first, putting your parents first, and putting your spouse and then community first, but there simply is no commandment telling us to put ourselves first. Putting yourself first is contrary to the law, and it is contrary to God’s character.
To abolish the law would be to abolish consideration for others! Jesus was not considering Himself on the cross, He was only considering others. Thus He established the law and the gospel on the cross. Many of our parents have that law written on their hearts and would not think twice about dying for us if such a situation arose. Many of our service men and women have that law written on their hearts and have sealed it with their own blood in dying for our freedom. The police officer you just cursed for writing you that speeding ticket will take a bullet for you without even flinching.
But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. Hebrews 8:10 NLT
Will you let God write His law on your heart? When He writes His law on your heart, He is also writing the gospel on your heart, for He is placing His very character inside your heart!