Shane was driving down an empty stretch of highway and without even thinking twice, he threw out the apple core from the apple he had been eating. It wasn’t 10 seconds later and a siren sounded behind him with flashing lights and the works.
‘No problem’ thought Shane. ‘It was just an apple core.’
Unfortunately that is not how the officer saw. He wrote out a ticket that would eventually end up being a $500 fine. When Shane went to the judge to dispute the ticket, the judge agreed with the officer.
“The Law is the Law,” the judge had said. “No littering.”
In Scandinavia there were a couple of thieves who stole some Van Gogh paintings from a museum. They were caught on video tape, their faces clearly revealing their identity, and when the officers found them they were caught red-handed with the paintings.
During trial though one of the lawyers questioned the thieves and it was considered by a technicality a form of harassment. Therefore the thieves were exonerated from their crime and to this day live free lives.
If we were Shane in the first story we might be a bit ticked. While the law does say “no littering,” the spirit behind the law is to not harm the planet. So who was right? The officer and the judge had legal right to issue the ticket, but they did not demonstrate honor to the higher law. They kept the letter of the law and ignored the spirit of the law.
The second story, which this one is true has the same elements. The thieves were clearly caught in every way possible, but because of a technicality the judge threw out the case. The letter of the law was honored, but not the spirit of the law.
This was the case when the Pharisees came to Jesus. They new the letter of the law well, but not the spirit. So in testing Jesus, they asked him what the greatest commandment was from the law? And Jesus summed it up:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Memorized Matt 22:34-46–10/14/10