Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV)
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I wonder what the Pharisees were expecting when they posed this question to Jesus “which command is the greatest?” Do not murder? Honour your Father and Mother? (A personal favourite that I remind my kids of.) You shall have no other God’s but me?
But Jesus by-passes these altogether and heads for something so close to the Pharisees’ hearts – the Shema – from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 – “Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” But then Jesus sends them a real curve-ball, again not from the Law, but from God’s very heart. Jesus quotes Leviticus 19:18 “…love your neighbour as yourself.” What shock and surprise the Pharisees must have felt!
What priority do I place on these two commands? Do I wake loving God and praising Him for His kindness, His mercy that’s new everyday (see Lamentations 3:22-23)? And do I actively prioritise helping, reaching out, and loving those around me. Because Jesus said the law hangs on these two things.
Jesus, this is not hard to understand. May the priority of my life start and finish with these commands of yours – to love You, and to love others. Amen
Written by Boudy Van Noppen