Matthew 22:34-40 The Greatest Commandments
Jesus is still in the temple in Jerusalem. He has been confronted by so many different challenges and challengers, but He has bested them all. The Pharisees try once again. They have just watched the Sadducees get knocked out.
The Pharisees have just watched Jesus best the Sadducees, so they prepare for their final round. They send their best lawyer up to bat. And of course he chooses a question of law. He doesn’t even try to flatter Jesus like the Pharisees disciples and Herodians did. He gets right to the point.
“Which is the greatest commandment?” I wonder if he had one in mind when he asked the question.
Jesus’ answer is exactly as expected by us, but was it what they expected? Probably not. Jesus didn’t pick one of the ten given to Moses, but grouped all the ones concerning God into one overall commandment. The first four commandments, given to Moses and passed down to Israel, deal with man’s behavior and relationship with God. Have no other gods before me; make NO images of any kind to bow down before; do not use God’s name idly; and remember to honor God by resting on the day He ordained.
In order to keep these commandments it is absolutely necessary to love God with everything in you; with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. If you do this you are assured of keeping all the commandments dealing directly with God. Why? Because in order to love God so fully you have to have a real relationship with Him. That alone inspires you to behave in ways that bring you in compliance with His commandments.
Jesus said that there was a second commandment that was very similar to the first one, and that it too was of great importance. This commandment summed up the last six commandments; the ones dealing with man’s relationship with his fellow man. Honor your father and mother; do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not lie about your neighbor; and do not be envious of your neighbor’s goods to the point of wanting what he has as your own.
In keeping these commandments it is necessary to value your fellow man as important as yourself. You actually have to want the best for them. This includes praying for God’s blessings upon them. It is very difficult to honestly pray for them and treat them badly at the same time. If you have a right relationship with God, His Spirit would make that nearly impossible for you to do. Talk about a conviction of the heart. Jesus said that we were to love our neighbor as ourselves to fulfill the rest of God’s commandments. Treat others as you would want to be treated. This is the foundation for any lasting relationship.
Jesus said that all the law and the prophets rested on these two commandments. Next it is time for Jesus to ask the questions. We will get to His question tomorrow. I want to give Him the entire floor.
Father God, I want to fulfill your commandments every day, but I know I fall short far too often. Lord I cherish my relationship with You and I want to do everything to grow deeper in our relationship. I know that reading Your word is one of the best ways to do that. But it also doesn’t end there. Help me give You every part of my heart, mind and soul. Fill me up with Your presence. Only then can I have any hope of living daily by Jesus’ second commandment. I need Your love flowing through me to show true love.