Jesus' response (in which He quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18) will serve as the foundation for our reading of the Law.
Today we will see the most famous summary of the Law, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Notice how they correspond with the two key commands of the Law that Jesus identified. How will we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind? Yahweh commands us first of all, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3).
Second, in worshiping Yahweh, we will not humiliate or insult Him by trying to express His all-excelling glory by a work of our own making. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6).
Third, we will sanctify (keep separate, reserve as unique and holy) His name. We will not misuse it by joining Him or His name with vanities, unrighteousness or sin like witchcraft or unholy spiritual practices, worship of other gods, false prophecies, lies, vows that are never kept or curses. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).
Fourth, we will honor Him as the Creator that governs all time, the seasons and all history in righteousness by following the calendar He gave: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).
Besides demonstrating our love to Yahweh, how do we keep the second commandment that Jesus quoted, that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? The fifth commandment follows, one that focuses on the most basic human unit, the family: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
The sixth commandment preserves the sanctity of life created in the image of God: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).
The seventh preserves the sanctity of the most basic relationship that establishes the family, marriage: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
The eighth maintains the integrity of interpersonal relationship by respecting property rights: “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15).
The ninth takes the respect toward our human bodies (from the sixth and seventh commandments) and our property (the eighth) and extends it to our forms of communication: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).
And the tenth deepens that commitment to our most personal longings, desires and thoughts: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).
The apostle Paul also recognizes the connection between these commands concerning our neighbor and love: “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For 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: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).
With love toward God and toward our neighbor specified by the Ten Commandments, we have our first lesson on the algebra of the Law.