The Greatest Commandment

53/365 days of blogging

Matthew 22:34-40 “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.   Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

We might think the Pharisees would have been glad to see the Saducees silenced.  The question that the Sadducees had always used to trap them was finally answered by Jesus.  But the pharisees were too proud to be impressed.  Jesus’ answer gave them a theological victory over the Sadducees, but they were more interested in defeating Jesus than in learning the truth.

The Pharisees, who had classified over 600 laws, often tried to distinguish the more important.  So one of them, an “expert in the law,” asked Jesus to identify the most important law.  Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  We are to love God, think constantly about his commandments, teach his commandments to our children, and live each day by the guidelines in His Word.

Also from Leviticus 19:18:  “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”   Moses was saying virtually the same thing that Jesus was saying the book of Matthew.  By carrying out Jesus’ simple commands, we find ourselves following all of God’s other laws as well.

By fulfilling these two commands, it is easier for a person to try to keep all of his commandments.  They summarize the Ten Commandments and the other Old Testament moral laws.  Jesus says that if we truly love God and our neighbor, we will naturally keep the commandments.  This is looking at God’s law positively.  Rather than worrying about all we should not do, we should concentrate on all we can do to show our love for God and others.



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