Summary: The greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, and all our mind, and all our soul, and all our strength and to love others as ourselves. There are no commandments greater than these.
See From God’s Heart
There is no other commandment greater than these - Matthew reports Jesus as saying that all the rest of the law and the prophets hinges on these two laws. (Matthew 7:12 (quickview) ) This is the teaching of the laws of Moses in a nutshell. The whole massive complex of Jewish rules and regulations could be boiled down to these two principles. They are simple enough for a child to understand, short enough for anyone to remember, sweeping enough to include every possibility, and strong enough to stand the test of time. God requires nothing less of his creation; these are the greatest commandments.
32 The scribe said to him, Right, Teacher; you have truly stated the HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM; 33 AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. The man recognized the important difference between God’s eternal principles and the earthly institutions he had established for man’s use in serving him.
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” - i.e., sensibly. Jesus not only observed the man’s intelligent response and his positive inclination toward Jesus, but he also saw that the man had considerable insight into spiritual things.
29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
This expert in O.T. Law had a clear grasp of the Law’s central requirements. But he was also aware that he fell short of fulfilling them. There are only three ways a person can react when that awareness dawns:
1.We can acknowledge we are sinners and appeal to God for mercy. (Not the option human nature will usually take.)
3.We can cut the Law’s requirements down by reinterpreting them, so we can live up to what are essentially lower standards.
It’s this third approach this Lawyer took. He wanted to define “neighbor” in such a way he could claim he had kept the commandment. This question was an attempt to limit the demands of the Law by suggesting that some people are neighbors while others are not. The lawyer was looking for minimal obedience while Jesus was looking for absolute obedience.
The perspective of this Lawyer was indicative of the Jews as a whole at the time of Christ. They were self-centric and legalistic in their spiritual view. Jesus tells the story of the “Good Samaritan” and at the end shifts the perspective of the Lawyer’s question by asking: v36-37 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
I.We need a new perspective