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Matthew 22:33-46: What is the Greatest Commandment?

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 30, 2012


Matthew 22:33-46 NLTse When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching. (34) But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. (35) One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: (36) “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” (37) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (40) The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (41) Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: (42) “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They replied, “He is the son of David.” (43) Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’? For David said, (44) ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ (45) Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” (46) No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

 

After the priests questioned Jesus about taxes, and the Sadducees about the resurrection, the Pharisees began to approach Him. The crowds looked on with anticipation as a large group moved across the courtyard in military like precision. People made way as the contingency of piously dressed delegates moved in a determined path. Some people in the crowd began to ask if the Pharisees were coming to learn, or question Jesus in an attempt to confuse and trap Him. They all had been more than surprised at the unexpected answers Jesus had already given. Surely these religious leaders could see His answers were true. The answers were beyond human wisdom, and must have come from God.

 

This thought was on the minds of the Pharisees, and frightened them. How could a common peasant outwit the greatest minds in all of Jerusalem, and in the temple court? This was something they could not stand idly by and watch. For a moment they cherished the site of their rivals vanquished by such a simple man. It did not take long for their pride to take control. The main focus of their plan was two fold. It would appear as if they were coming to defend the priests and Sadducees. Rescuing them from such a dilemma would only gain support and admiration for their cause from both the people and their rivals. It would also provide the victory over Jesus they had been trying to gain for some years. This seemed like the perfect setting for their perfect plan.

 

One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” It didn’t matter which law Jesus chose for an answer, each of the Pharisees were prepared to bombard Jesus with accusations, accusing Him of placing one law above another. In an orchestrated move, the Pharisees began to position themselves around Jesus. The trap was set, and there appeared to be no way out.

 

Peter didn’t take his eyes off Jesus as the Pharisees passed between them. He looked for a sign, ready to come to the rescue at a moments notice. The expression on Jesus’ face didn’t change as He began to rotate slowly, reading the face of each of the Pharisees. Jesus’ eyes rested on Peter as He turned, stopping for a minute. Jesus remembered the storm when Peter took his eyes off Him. Suddenly Jesus could see a vision into the near future when He would look into Peter’s eyes again. He knew Peter would face another trial, one he would instantly regret. Peter would want to come to His aid, but hesitate. He knew the sorrow in Peter’s heart would make him look away again. Just for a moment, long enough to cause him the most severe pain of his life.

 

Only after He had made eye contact with each Pharisee, Jesus’ eyes rested on the one who questioned Him. Finally Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” The answer was not a direct quote of any of the individual laws, but a summation of the first three. It was not any of the answers the Pharisees had been anticipating. They all wondered how they could argue with love as Jesus continued, “This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

 

Jesus once again began to turn around, slowly gazing on the faces of each of the Pharisees. He could tell by the tortured look in their eyes and the flushed look on their faces they were experiencing elevated blood pressure while fighting the Spirit. They were thinking, not about His answer, but the answers they had prepared. They could see how their answers were futile in the presence of this lowly man from Nazareth. With the Pharisees surrounding Him, Jesus asked them a question before they had a chance to regroup: “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” He knew they did not want to hesitate. The fact they could not reply to His previous answer put them in a strange predicament. In an attempt to save face they quickly replied, “He is the son of David.” The answer eased the tension building up in the Pharisees. Jesus gave them a moment to relax before asking His next question. “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’? For David said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.”

 

The Pharisees knew which Psalm of David Jesus was referring to. “The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” (Psalms 110:1). A few of the Pharisees were now beginning to think, beginning to listen. Jesus could tell which were ready to respond. They were now ready for another question to contemplate. “Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?”

 

The question caught all the Pharisees off guard. After the answers Jesus had already given them, and the questions He asked, they all stood in wonder. For the first time in their lives, all the Pharisees began to see a flaw in their beliefs. How could the Messiah be the Son of David, and be his God? Were they missing something? Many of the Pharisees began to open their minds to other texts the Spirit was offering. A few of them felt a deep desire to go back and study the scriptures to see how God could be the Son of David. They could see a key element was missing in their belief. They taught the Messiah was God, who would one day come down from His throne in Heaven, take revenge on the gentiles and Pagans, all those who opposed them, and restore the kingdom. They thought they were to rule with David in the new kingdom. They also taught the Messiah was the Son of David. In reality they had given this concept little thought. It had been repeated so many times, it became little more than a cliché. Was there something they had missed?

 

Peter also thought about this. He was beginning to see answers to some of the questions on his mind. How was Jesus the Messiah if He was born of a woman. John and his brother James were also beginning to open their minds, questioning many of the doctrines they had been taught. John knew he had to find the answers. He felt too embarrassed to ask Jesus in front of the others. He decided he would talk to Jesus’ mother, to see if she had any answers.

 

For the time being everyone in the courtyard was filled with more questions than answers. No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

 

One Response to “Matthew 22:33-46: What is the Greatest Commandment?”

  1. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    #1
    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    #2
    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

    Like

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