The Commandments of Jesus Christ
Man’s Need for God’s Commandments
God created Man with free will to choose between good and evil (CCC 1732) and gives consequences for those choices (CCC 1008). From the beginning, God gave “commandments” to help Man choose to enter into the “sheer goodness” of union with God and other men (CCC 1). At Eden (Gen 3:1-24), Man abused his freedom by disobeying God’s commandment and breaking harmony with God in the Fall (CCC 400, 416, 1707, 1739). After liberating Man from slavery in Egypt, God offered the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17; Deut 5:6-22) to help guide Man to peace and happiness. Man continues to be accountable to keep God’s commandments (CCC 1745; 2072).
Modern Man’s Rejection of Commandments
Modern Man has increasingly rejected God and His Commandments, accepting instead the soggy cowardice of “tolerance” where there are no rights and wrongs. Like ancient Israel where “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), modern culture is falling into chaos and decay: the denial of God, the viral expansion of a Culture of Death which embraces contraception (literally, against life), abortion and euthanasia, the abuse of the sacredness of sexuality with the “hook up culture”, the bearing children out of wedlock and the abandonment of fatherhood, the pornography epidemic among men, the celebration of homosexual acts and “marriages”, the brainwashing of 24×7 personal media that distracts and drives obsessive materialism and the narcissism of social media, etc. Tragically, Man cannot escape the consequences of breaking God’s Commandments in this life or in the life to come. The coming Judgment of Jesus Christ is inescapable.
The Commandments of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ reasserts the importance of the Ten Commandments, but also raises the bar. Jesus:
Reasserts the Ten Commandments – Jesus reiterates the unchanging requirement of the Commandments (Matt 5:17-20). The Magisterium continues to provide clear teaching on the Commandments (CCC 2052-2557). The Ten Commandments (cf. Ex 20:1-17), which Jesus as a Person of the Trinity authored, are:
- I am the LORD your God: you shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness again your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Commands a more rigorous adherence to the Ten Commandments – Rather than abolish the Commandments, Jesus comes to fulfill them and to reiterate that men must keep the Commandments (Matt 5:17-19). He commands a new and more rigorous understanding of the Ten Commandments that surpasses the teachings of the scribes and the Pharisees (Matt 5:20), proclaiming that anyone who is angry with his brother is liable to the hell of fire (Matt 5:21-26) and that looking at a women with lust and divorcing one’s wife is equivalent to adultery (Matt 5:27-32). Jesus also commands Man to give with anonymity (Matt 6:1), pray and fast in private (Matt 6:5-7; 5:16).
Offers a new synthesis of the Ten Commandments – When asked about the greatest Commandment, Jesus offers a new synthesis, saying “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matt 22:36-40).
Proclaims the rigorous New Commandment of Love – Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34; cf. John 15:14). In other teachings, Jesus explains that this kind of love includes forgiveness (Mark 11:25-26), the love of enemies (Matt 5:38-45) and to refrain from habitually judging others (Matt 7:1-2).
Commands the performance of the acts of mercy – In the parable of The Sheep and Goats (Matt 25:31-46), Jesus makes it clear that only those who perform the acts of mercy are truly worthy to enter heaven: feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned (CCC 2447). Jesus commands men to be merciful (Luke 6:36) and offers the examples of mercy in The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) and His own “washing the feet” of the Apostles (John 13:14).
Commands Men to pray – Jesus directs men to pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13), urges men to gather together to pray (Matt 18:20), to pray boldly (Matt 7:7; Mark 11:22-24) and to be persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-8).
Insists on Repentance and Confession – From His earliest public ministry, Jesus commands Man to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). He instructs Man to confess sins with contrition and turn from Sin (Luke 7:36-50; John 8:1-11). He gives the Apostles the power to forgive Sin (John 20:23; 2 Cor 5:18; CCC 1461-1467), reconciling Man and God (CCC 1485-1498).
Instructs men to partake in the Eucharist – At the Last Supper, Jesus offers the Eucharist (thanksgiving), commanding all men to consume the Eucharist (Luke 22:19-20). To have “life”, men must eat (literally, “gnawing on”) the Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48-59).
Makes keeping His Commandments an absolute requirement – Jesus makes it clear that Man must keep the Commandments: “If you would enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:16-17); “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He urges Man to perfection, saying “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48) and insists that vigilance is an urgent necessity (Luke 12:40). Despite the near impossibility of “entering through the Narrow Gate” (Matt 7:13-14), Jesus teaches that all men can be saved saying “”With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26) and the Church reaffirms that “What God commands He makes possible by His Grace” (CCC 2082).
Commands men to evangelize – Christ commands men to “let your light shine” (Matt 5:14) and to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20).