Bible Study Lesson: Matthew 22:34-40
Moses brought the ten commandments to the Israelites before he died. These simple but powerful laws helped to establish a nation from wanderers.
But, over time the religious leaders began to add to the commands. They began to explain every little detail in how the laws were to be obeyed.
Jesus came and made the commandments simple again.
What is the Greatest Commandment? Does It Apply to the Ten?
Jesus tells about the greatest commandments of the Bible in today’s reading.
Looking at this Scripture passage from Matthew, I’m reminded of a quote from one of our most beloved presidents. It goes like this ..
“I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.” – Ronald Reagan
If you change “US Congress” to “Sadducees and Pharisees” you have a good understanding of today’s lesson.
A Lawyer Wants the Truth about the Ten Commandments?
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.” – Matthew 22:34-40 NASB
Does the Greatest Commandment Question Mean Victory for the Sadducees?
The Sadducees were constantly trying to use the law to entrap the Pharisees. When Jesus finally answered the question of the greatest commandment, there was a bittersweet victory over the Sadducees.
I say bittersweet because, although these words from Christ helped the Pharisees, there was no way they could simply accept them. They despised Jesus more than the Sadducees and were much too proud to be impressed by Him.
The Great Commandments – How Many Laws Do We Really Need?
When Jesus was asked the question of which was the most important of the commandments (the Pharisees had 600 + laws they had classified), Jesus quoted Scripture from ***Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
This is why I placed the quote from Ronald Reagan in the introduction above.
Why These Two Commands?
If we love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, we are more likely to follow the golden rule when dealing with others. It’s more difficult to do wrong to a person we love so all the other laws fall into place.
A Positive Approach to an Entrapment Question
Jesus took the positive rather than the negative when He answered the question. This means we can work toward doing right instead of concentrating on the things we shouldn’t do.
Can We Follow these Two Greatest Commandments?
No, we can’t.
Even though it’s impossible for humans to completely love all people, let’s try to love God with more passion. Let’s make an effort to love others who may not return that love as Christ commanded.
The world will be a better place if we’ll but try.
Love in Christ
*** The quotes Jesus gave were from two other verses of the Bible:
Deuteronomy 6:5 – “You shall love the LORD your God (with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.)”
Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. “
If you would like to learn more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to see John 3:16.
Filed under: Matthew