The Great Commandment

November 29, 2021

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” (Matthew 22:34-40).

A lawyer was a scribe (Mark 12:28). Scribes were educated men skilled in interpreting Mosaic Law. This scribe had heard Jesus had silenced the Sadducees and was better qualified to hold a debate with Him. The Pharisees sent him to Jesus for the purpose of trapping Him. The genius of his argument is simply which of the 10 Commandments is the greatest, the most important. Should Jesus single out one commandment as the most important He would negate the importance of the other 9.

This is a classic example of people putting their own values on the Word of God, like the Samaritans. They were not despised just because they were half-breeds. They were despised because in their religion they accepted certain parts of the Mosaic Law and rejected others. We see and hear the same thing in many areas of Christianity today. We tend to forget, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Jesus argued that all of the Mosaic Law was inspired by God and therefore every aspect of the Law was equal in authority. Moses brought down 2 tablets of stone with God’s Law written on them. One tablet of stone contained God’s spiritual law, the other God’s moral law. To say, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart . . . soul, and . . . mind, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself, Jesus stipulated the moral law and spiritual law were equal in authority and importance, therefore negating the position and argument of the scribe.

All Scripture includes the Old and the New Testaments. Both Testaments are unified because both Testaments were inspired by the same God. Spiritual truths taught in the New Testament were practiced in the Old and vice versa. Does this mean Christians are to obey the dress code, dietary laws, and ceremonial laws of the Jews? No. These were ceremonial and civil, not spiritual or moral. The New Testament emphasizes the moral law of God. The civil and ceremonial laws were honored by Jesus, but after His death and resurrection, those laws were fulfilled and negated. Christians are not obligated to obey them (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:14-16). But the moral law is retained by Jesus and the Apostles and, therefore, are to be obeyed by Christians.

“Thank You, Lord, for Your wisdom in countering the arguments of those who did not honor Your authority. Give us the same wisdom through Your Holy Spirit to counter the arguments of those who do not honor Your Word or authority today. To Your praise and glory I ask, Amen.”


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