Summary: Often men are more interested in proving the prowess of their own religious party, rather than listening to Jesus. There are times when we need to stop speaking, stop questioning, and start listening to what God is saying in His Word.
A SUMMARY OF THE LAW, AND A QUESTION OF IDENTITY
This section begins with the Pharisees gathered together with just one malicious desire. They had heard Jesus “putting the Sadducees to silence” (Matthew 22:34), and yet they still imagined that they could outwit Him with questions of their own. Often men are more interested in proving the prowess of their own religious party, rather than in listening to Jesus.
So they chose a student of the Law to challenge Him with what they thought was a hard question. The verb used by Matthew indicates that this was a hostile attack - a ‘temptation’ (cf. Matthew 4:1; Matthew 22:18), or a “test” (Matthew 22:35). There is a place for valid questioning; but there is also such a thing as ‘tempting the Lord your God’ (Matthew 4:7): and, in our own lives, we should make ourselves aware of the difference.
The Rabbis taught that there were greater and lesser laws. Even Jesus spoke of a commandment as being ‘least’ (Matthew 5:19). So the question is, “which commandment of the law overarches all others?” (Matthew 22:36).
There are sins which are more heinous than others: but why do we always want to classify sins? ‘This’ may not be as bad as ‘that’ - but before God, ‘to offend in one point of the law is to be guilty of all’ (James 2:10). Break one link in a chain, and the whole chain is broken: all sin separates from God (Isaiah 59:2).
However, since you ask, the golden rule is the law of love. This consists first of all in words recited every day in what is known as the ‘Shema’ (Matthew 22:37; Deuteronomy 6:4-5), which calls for wholehearted love of God. Jesus calls this the first, and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:38).
Secondly, there is another commandment “like unto it” (Matthew 22:39): love your neighbour as you love yourself (Leviticus 19:18). On this likeness hinges “all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40). Messiah ‘fulfils the law and the prophets’ (Matthew 5:17) by His own unique act of divine love (cf. John 3:16).
The hinge rests in this: ‘If a man says that he loves God, but hates his brother, he is a liar: for He who loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?’ (1 John 4:20).
At this point, Jesus took over the agenda (Matthew 22:41). There are times when we need to stop speaking, stop questioning, and start listening to what God is saying in His Word. “What think ye of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42).
This is not unlike the question Jesus asked of His own disciples: ‘Whom do ye say that I am?’ (Matthew 16:15). What is our own response to Jesus? Do we stand in a personal relationship with Him?
Jesus was willing to challenge his challengers within the presuppositions of their pompous religiosity. “Whose Son is He?” Easy, they thought, “The Son of David” (cf. Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; Ezekiel 37:24).
Then Jesus astonished them with another question, arising out of their own Scriptures (Psalm 110:1). “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The LORD said to my Lord?” (Matthew 22:43-44). This statement itself is Trinitarian, and also gives a glimpse into the mechanics of Biblical inspiration: David, by the Spirit, was able to listen in to the counsels of Eternity.
“How - in what sense - is Messiah David’s son?” (Matthew 22:45). Jesus showed up the inadequacies of His interlocutors’ perceptions. More than David’s son, He is David’s Lord.
With this, at last, He rendered His enemies speechless (Matthew 22:46). They might then have surrendered their lives to Jesus, but we know that wasn’t about to happen. Instead they sought more violent ways to destroy Him…