Starting with Exodus 20, have the class flip through the next few chapters and review the types of laws recorded. If needed, point out a few: how to handle thefts, how to handle accidental injuries, how to handle property damage.
Question: What is the most important commandment in the Law?
I expected this one to be a no-brainer, but somehow these young folks had gotten to be teenagers in the church without knowing the answer to that by heart. So after they had pondered that awhile, we flipped over and read ...
The Greatest Commandments
Read Matthew 22:34-40
- Name the two most important commandments.
- What do they have in common?
- Jesus said (v.40) that all of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. If you loved God with all your heart and loved your neighbor as yourself, would it be possible to break the 10 Commandments? They agreed that loving God wholly and loving our neighbors as ourselves would prevent any wrongdoing. (If they had wanted to discuss the Sabbath in more depth, Matthew 12:1-14 is suitable; but there were no detailed questions on the Sabbath.)
It's fairly obvious how it connects, it simply reinforces the point. If there is need for more emphasis, James 2:8 also makes the same point.
Read Galatians 5:14-23.
- Looking at verses 19-21: Are the actions condemned by the Law of Moses still considered wrong?
- If someone loves God and neighbor, will he do those things?
- Looking at verses 22-23, there is a focus not on bad things to avoid, but on good things that come God's Spirit, which shows itself in love of God and neighbor. When a person acts in that way, are they breaking God's law?
The Gentile Christians and the Law of Moses
The Law of Moses contained many other commands about ceremonies and special observances which the nation of Israel had observed for many hundreds of years. While all the early Christians were Jews, Christ sent his followers to all nations (not just Israel) and soon there were non-Jews mixed in with the Jews in the church. One of the earliest controversies in the church was whether the non-Jews had to observe the Jewish rituals and festivals in addition to love of God and neighbor. The discussion is summarized in Acts 15. In the end, they sent the following letter to the non-Jewish ("Gentile") Christians.
Read Acts 15:23-29
- Are we required to observe the rituals and ceremonies described by Moses?
- What kinds of things are required?
- What is the greatest commandment? This is just to make sure that talking about other things hasn't made them forget where we started the lesson.