DELIGHTED: Matthew 22:34–40
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him 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 22:34–40)
The religious experts once again set a trap for Jesus. And, again, he does more than slip past it. He uses their web to untangle the truth, revealing the hypocrisy of their religious legalism and the freedom of his redeeming love.
It takes a sharp mind to grasp the vast, complex nuances
of the Jewish law. It takes a brilliant mind to simplify all of that information into one core thought that somehow encompasses the entire thing. Complexity leads to confusion. Simplicity leads to revelation. That’s exactly what happens in this passage.
Technically speaking, Jesus doesn’t choose just one command. He combines two. Has that ever bothered you? Isn’t this cheating? Does he think he can get away with it because he is Jesus? No. He is showing us that these two together create one complete command. You cannot separate the two.
It’s like this: Which is more important, breathing in or breathing out? Pick one. Of course, you can’t pick one. Breathing requires both. In fact, if you aren’t doing both, then pretty soon, you’ll be doing neither.
The same is true with this command. If you aren’t doing both, you are doing neither. Love for God that produces a love for others is Christian breathing. And without breathing, there can be no life. Throughout this journey we’ve talked about coming awake. But perhaps without grasping this we have yet to come alive.
This is the Jesus way, truth, and life’to love God with all we have and all we are. And as our hearts turn outward toward him, he will train us to love others in the same reckless and ridiculous way.
Jesus, teach us the most simple way’to love you and those you love. Empower us to grasp the depth of this understanding, seeing everything we do through the lens of fulfilling this law, because it’s already fulfilled in you. Reshape the curvature of our hearts, turning them outward through your love for us, to love you and others. Call us to wake up and come alive in your love, which is the ground and source of every living thing. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What is one obstacle to loving the people in your life? We’re not talking about theoretical groups of people that are out there somewhere. But your family, friends, coworkers, band mates.