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Matthew 22:34-40

Time for the Greatest Response

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • August 16, 2020

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Time for the Greatest Response

Matthew 22:34-40

Illus. Crunch Time!

Read: Matthew 22:34-40

Jesus responds to the question of the greatest commandment in two parts, to love the Lord with your all, and to love your neighbor as yourself. It is the whole of the law and prophets (the Old Testament) that hangs on those two commandments. Everything falls and fails without love for God and people in place.

I.   Ask Jesus to Show You His Way

Matthew 22:34-36

  • After silencing the Sadducees, the Pharisees get together to plot and plan against Him again.
  • Knowing that the Pharisees were out to trap Jesus (15), the picture you get is of this group that continues to put plans in place to try and trip and trap Him. First, they came with the Herodians, then they sent the Sadducees. The Pharisees didn’t even agree philosophically or theologically with these groups, but they wanted Jesus taken out.

Illus. Time Out.

  • After their group meeting, it seems they came up with a question, and a person to pose the question.
  • The person approaching Jesus was an expert in the Old Testament Scriptures and Mosaic law, called a lawyer.
  • The topic of the greatest commandment was a very hot debate in that day that caused great division.
  • The rabbis had determined that there were 613 letters in the Hebrew text of the Ten Commandments. Because there were 613 letters, they decided to make a law for every letter.
  • They divided these laws into two categories 248 affirmative laws (what a person must do), and 365 negative laws (what a person must not do).
  • The laws were then further divided into additionally categories, heavy and light (heavy being absolutely binding and light being less binding).
  • The issue was, there was no agreement as to which laws were heavy and which were light. The Scribes and Pharisees spent much time debating on it all.
  • So, they bring Jesus the question. The debated and divisive question of their day. And while they were there to trip Him up and trap Him, Jesus was going to show them His way, the right way.

Illus. How is it?

Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, forever!

Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

Jeremiah 33:3, Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Psalm 86:7, In the day of trouble I shall call upon You, for You will answer me.

James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

  • We all need to be reminded of what is most important. And here Jesus makes clear the content of the greatest commandment. That content is not dependent upon context or the issues that are present.

Matthew 22:36-39, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

  • God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, if you break it down, there were two tables, the first four relate to our relationship to God, the last 6 are associated with our relationship to others. The Rabbis expanded it to 613, a division of positive 248 and negative 365, one negative commandment for every day.
  • Jesus narrows it down to two that are very important for me and you.
  1. Love the Lord with your All
  • Jesus’ response to the question was without hesitation. He did not wait or ask for the latest statistics on the debate. Rather He said quickly and plainly, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, this is the great and foremost commandment.
  • Jesus answer was in total agreement with both the law of Moses and the ancient Jewish custom. Here He was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, it was a part of the Shema; which means to hear.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

  • This, along with other text from Deuteronomy and Numbers, comprised the Shema. It was quoted twice daily by every faithful Jewish person.
  • These Scriptures would be copied onto parchment paper and place in something called phylacteries.
  • Phylacteries were a small leather box strapped to the forehead or left arm of Jewish men during prayer (Picture).

Deuteronomy 6:8, Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

Deuteronomy 11:18, Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

  • Interestingly, it was phylacteries that would be a part of Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees who did many things, such as wearing phylacteries to be noticed by men, but it was all for show (Mt. 23:2-5).
  • Interestingly, that which was tied to their head and hand, is that which they were not doing. It was all for self and all for show. Their twice daily prayer, that which they knew by heart was not in line with their heart.
  • This is important for me and for you to catch. Because we too know the commandments Jesus quotes here.
  • Many know it by heart, but is it reflective of their heart? It isn’t enough to just know.

James 1:22, But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

Luke 6:46, Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

  • For you and me, may we know the Scripture in our mind, have it posted on the wall, but it is not enough to know, and not go. 
  • Jesus says to love God “agapao,” which is love with all of oneself, to love supremely. This is in contrast with the other common Greek words for love “phileo,” brotherly love, or “eros,” love on the physical level.
  • Love God with all your heart which is the core of one’s personal being. Proverbs 4:23 identifies it as our control center, all we do flows from it, so we must watch over it with all diligence. Love God with all your soul, the seat of feelings, desires, affections, breath. Love God with all your mind, this includes our understanding, our way of thinking, our thought life.
  • The key word is “all.” God wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and Mark adds, strength.
  • It is important to ask yourself where you are at on this.  The Bible tells us that when our relationship to God is lacking, it is because we have moved farther from Him and His Word.

Revelation 2:4-5, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deed you did at first…”

  • Are you drifting away? Well, God’s word has something to say about this: remember from where you have fallen, repent (turn back to God), and do as you did at first.

Illus. Get back to it!

Matthew 22:39, The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

  • The phrase “the second is like it,” means linked to it, corresponding, in other words, they are a package.

1 John 4:20, We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

  1. Love Your Neighbor, don’t look for a Waiver
    • A “waiver,” is that which allows a person to waive an obligation or relinquish responsibility.
    • We are called to love our neighbor and Jesus doesn’t give us a waiver, an opt out clause, or the right to relinquish that responsibility.
    • In Romans 13, Paul says that the love we are to have toward our neighbor is like an outstanding debt. All the others can be paid in full, except that one.

Romans 13:8-9, Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    • This means when I come across a neighbor, I owe them something. Love.
    • All the laws given, 613 according to the Rabbis, summed up in a single word, love. The Lord said, ‘vengeance is mine” (12:19). I believe we need to do a better job of allowing God to be God.
    • Let us be those who share the good news, tell people all that God has done, that in Him the battle is won, love people, let God be God. Let us be reminded of what James 4:12 reads, there is only one lawgiver and judge, who are you to judge your neighbor?

Matthew 7:1, Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

  • Certainly, there are many ways in which the term “judge” can be understood.
  • In this passage, it is referring to the private, judgmental attitudes that judge a person to the point of condemnation.
  • Many might throw around the phrase “don’t judge,” assuming that Jesus is commanding universal acceptance of any lifestyle or teaching.

Matthew 7:15-16, Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…

  • Certainly, this requires discernment and assessment.
  • Jesus also encourages to caution and advise others who are going the wrong way in order to help them.

Matthew 18:15, If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 

  • Paul instructs the early church to keep an eye on those who cause division in the church (Rom. 16:17).
  • So, there is a need to judge, but that need is for restoration and identification, not for condemnation.
  • Because I care for another, I am willing to go to them directly, and point them back to the Lord for the purpose or restoration.

Illus. Ready to restore.   

Luke 6:37-38, Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

  • The word “give” is often associated with giving financially. But from the context, we understand that Jesus is talking not of money, but of mercy.
  • If you are merciful, forgiving, and compassionate towards others, then when that is what you need, it will be given to you. But if you are judgmental and merciless, when you need mercy from others, judgement will be merciless to you.

James 2:13, Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

    • We are called, commanded to love. Its time for the greatest response to the command, that response, is to love.
    • Love God love your neighbor. As to the “who” my neighbor is, Jesus gives a description in the book of Luke.

Luke 10:25-37

1 Corinthians 13:4-10

Matthew 22:34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”


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