10 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

Joshua 16-17
Psalms 148
Jeremiah 8
Matthew 22

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Matthew 22:37-40 (CSB): “He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.’”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

A scribe had asked Jesus what the most important command was. In doing so, it put Jesus in what was thought to be a no-win situation.

Matthew 22:34–36 (CSB): “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: ‘Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?’”

Here is the reasoning behind the question:

“The rabbis had determined that there were 613 commandments contained in the Pentateuch, one for each letter of the Ten Commandments. Of the 613 commandments, 248 were seen as affirmative and 365 as negative. Those laws were also divided into heavy and light categories, with the heavy laws being more binding than the light ones. The scribes and rabbis, however, had been unable to agree on which were heavy and which were light. This orientation to the law led the Pharisees to think Jesus had devised His own theory. So the Pharisees asked this particular question to get Jesus to incriminate Himself by revealing His unorthodox and unilateral beliefs.” – (The MacArthur Study Bible [electronic ed., p. 1489])

So, if we were to put ourselves in the group that surrounded Jesus and we heard the scribe’s question, every secondary conversation would have immediately stopped. Every eye was fixed on Jesus as hearts skipped a beat and they waited for Jesus’ answer.

As Jesus looked around, opened His mouth, and prepared to give His answer, you could have heard a pin drop.

Matthew 22:37-40 (CSB): “He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.’”

One of the many things that we realize about Jesus is that He loved going to the heart of a matter.

When He spoke about murder, He said that someone who had anger toward someone had essentially committed murder in his heart (Matthew 5:21-22). When He spoke against adultery, He warned that someone who has lustful thoughts has already committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

In fact, we hear this principle throughout the entirety of the Bible. God is always looking at the heart of a matter.

1 Samuel 16:7 (CSB): “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.’”

So, when Jesus was asked for His opinion on the greatest commandment in the Bible, He naturally went to the heart of the matter. His answer provided the essence of every commandment that God had given.

The Greatest Commandments Restated: Love and serve God with every ounce of your being, holding nothing back. Love and serve everyone you encounter during the course of your day, doing for them what you do for yourself.

Finally, listen to what Jesus said after giving these two greatest commandments.

Matthew 22:40 (CSB): “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Essentially, Jesus said that every command that God has given is rooted in the commands to love God and others. I’ve noted before that the Ten Commandments are grouped this way (the first 4 pertain to our love for God and the last 6 commandments pertain to our love for others).

Jesus made it clear that the Old Testament Law was rooted in love. The commands were given so that the people of Israel would behave in a way that was loving to God and others. But, if they failed to see this and failed to act out of love, then the laws would simply be an endless set of restrictions for them.

So, Jesus took the opportunity to call Israel back to God’s design. He called people back to the heart of the matter. He called people to love God and love others and to realize that this is God’s whole purpose in all that He commands of us.

What was the response? Just listen to Mark’s Gospel account…

Mark 12:32-35 (CSB): “Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, teacher. You have correctly said that he is one, and there is no one else except him. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And no one dared to question him any longer.”

Conclusion

Friend, can it be said that you love God with every part of your being? Can it be said that you care about others in the same way that you care about yourself?

If not, you’ve got work to do. This is the standard to which God has called us.

But, as we develop a heart that is filled with love, we will also realize that this command is for our good. A heart filled with love will create a wellspring of happiness within us and will continually move us in the direction of emotional health.

Once again, we realize that God’s commands are for our good!

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, when I read Your Word, I can’t help but see the primacy of love. Love is why You came to earth to pay the sin debt of every single person who will trust in You. Love is what You call us to give back to God. It’s also what You tell us to engage in with others, even our “enemies.” I even read in 1 Corinthians 13 that if I don’t have love, then nothing else I do matters. Help me, love to experience Your love more deeply so that I can, in turn, share Your healing love with others. Amen.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash