Matthew 22:34-40 – The Greatest Commandment

Read Matthew 22:34-40

The attempts to trap Jesus continue. I’m not sure what the Pharisees expected Jesus to say here to their grilling about the law of Moses. Did they think Jesus wouldn’t know? After all, according to some Biblical scholars there were 613 laws, and it would be common for the rabbis to quarrel among themselves about which was most important.

Jesus didn’t skip a beat. The most important commandment is to love God, and second to that, to love your neighbor as yourself. Well, there’s two of the 613. Jesus explained that when you get those two right, the rest just fall into place.

If you are loving God with your whole self, you will have no other gods, you will obey him, you will respect the Sabbath, and so forth. Likewise, when you love your neighbor as yourself, you will not steal from them, kill them, commit adultery, etc. Now I realize I only touched on the the Ten Commandments here, simply because those are the ones familiar to me.

I’m guessing all of the laws Moses prescribed from God would also be easily followed by loving God and each other. Jesus said so. You will recall the Sermon on the Mount (earlier readings in Matthew 5-7). Did you notice how they focused on loving God and loving each other?

Jesus made it easy for us. He boiled 613 laws into two. But sometimes these two can be difficult. Sometimes it’s hard to love our neighbors when they hurt us in some way. Not everyone is as lovable as we might want them to be. What we can do is remember that God loves them. Tatters and all, God loves us all whether we’re nice or whether we’re grouchy, whether we’re devoted or rebellious, whether we look good or whether we’re a mess.

And how about God–is he lovable? How many times have you blamed God for something that didn’t go right in your life or in the world around you? We can be mad at God (and each other for that matter), but that doesn’t mean we stop loving him. We do need to trust God, even when bad things happen. He never leaves us alone. Our trials and mistakes will only make us stronger if we let them.

What is going on in your life right now? Are you struggling? Are you rejoicing? Maybe a little of both. Take some time today to focus on loving and trusting God no matter what. That’s how he loves you.

Let’s pray. Lord, forgive me for those times when I have wondered where you were and questioned you on why you would let something bad happen. Bad things will happen because there is evil in the world — thank you for reminding me. Help me to have an unshakable trust and devotion for you. May people see me and know that your fire is glowing inside me. Use me to touch those who need a touch from you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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