Summary: Idolatry is preferring something above God. God doesn’t just want to be added to your list of preferences and activities. He demands that He is your love, your greatest desire, the one who occupies your thoughts and the one you seek to please above all.
In his third image, Brown likened the law to a plumbline. When a builder wants to check his work, he uses a weighted string to see if it’s true to the vertical. But if he finds that he has made a mistake, he doesn’t use the plumbline to correct it. He gets out his hammer and saw. The law points out the problem of sin; it doesn’t provide a solution.
In understanding how to Love God with all our Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength we see: 1) THE APPROACH OF THE PHARISEES Matthew 22:34-35
2) THE QUESTION BY THE LAWYER Matthew 22:36
Matthew 22:36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (ESV)
In his addressing Jesus as Teacher, the lawyer was probably not being scornful, as the previous questioners had been (see vv. 16, 24). He seems to have had at least some respect for Jesus and may have felt somewhat guilty at being used to ensnare Him.
Please turn to Matthew 5
In asking, “Which is the great commandment in the Law?” the lawyer was asking what was the greatest commandment of Moses.
Although the scribes and Pharisees considered the whole Old Testament to be authoritative, and not just the five books of Moses as did the Sadducees, the Scribes and Pharisees nevertheless considered Moses to be the supreme human figure in Scripture.
The scribes and Pharisees were said to sit in Moses’ seat (Matt. 23:2) because that represented the ultimate authority in Judaism.
From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus assured His hearers that:
Matthew 5:17-18 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota/jot/the smallest letter, not a dot/tittle, stroke of a pen, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (ESV)
He made clear that, although He was the Messiah and God’s own Son, He was not preaching and teaching anything that obviated the law of Moses or any other part of Scripture.
But because Jesus’ teaching of Scripture was so utterly contrary to theirs, which for centuries had been encrusted by thousands of humanly-devised rabbinical interpretations, the Pharisees were convinced that Jesus must be teaching a message He considered to be greater than that of Moses.
Over the years, the rabbis had supposedly determined that, just as there were 613 separate letters in the Hebrew text of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, in the book of Numbers, there were also 613 separate laws in the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses. Such letterism, as it is sometimes called, was extremely popular and was considered to be a valuable exegetical tool for interpreting Scripture. The rabbis had divided those 613 laws into affirmative and negative groups, holding that there were 248 affirmative laws, one for every part of the human body, as they supposed, and 365 negative laws, one for each day of the year. The laws were also divided into heavy and light, the heavy ones being absolutely binding and the light ones less binding.
In the first Century, there had never been unanimity, however, as to which laws were heavy and which were light, and the rabbis and scribes spent countless hours proudly debating the merits of their particular divisions and the ranking of laws within the divisions.