Summary: The commandments of God are meaningless without love, but when they are rooted in love they spring to life.
“THE GREAT COMMANDMENT”
“A Love for God and Each Other”
Mt. 22: 34-46
Fr. Christopher M. Nerreau
• Last week we discussed God’s love for us, this week we will discuss our love for God. In our gospel reading today we come to the third of four separate attempts by the religious elites to trap Jesus:
o Paying Taxes to Caesar – 22:15-22
o Marriage and the Resurrection – 21:23-33
o Concerning The Great Commandment – (Today’s Passage) 22:34-46
o Concerning the Son of David – 22:41-46
• The problem with the Pharisees was not one of zeal but of love.
Illustration: Yesterday I attended a wedding and funeral in the same day. At the funeral the children of the man who died did not say – “I will miss my dad because he kept the rules.” NO! They said – “I will miss my dad because he loved us.” In a similar fashion, at the wedding the priest did not say – “here is a ring, now you are married.” No! The priest said – “The ring is a symbol of your love for each other.”
Proposition: The point is that the commandments of God are meaningless without love, but when they are rooted in love they spring to life.
Interrogative sentence: Are you trying to please God today through cold legalism that is lacking in love?
Sermon Preview: Look with me as the scriptures reveal:
1. The Request of the Pharisees – (v. 34-36)
2. The Response of Christ – (v. 37-39)
3. The Requirement of Love – (v. 40)
Transitional Sentence: Firstly, look with me as we see…
I. THE REQUEST OF THE PHARISEES: (v. 34-36)
Explanation: For the Pharisees this exchange with Christ was never about learning from the voice of our Lord, it was about challenging Christ and His divinity.
THE BIBLE SAYS – Mt 22:34 “when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.”
• The Pharisees had great disdain for the Sadducees who were the religious liberals of Jesus day (denying the resurrection, heaven and the angels.)
• As Such the Pharisees sought to demonstrate their superiority over the Sadducees by putting in effect putting Christ in His place.
• For the Pharisees there request of Jesus was never about learning, it was about embarrassing Our Lord and building upon their own (already puffed up) egos.
The Request Of The Pharisees:
THE BIBLE SAYS – Mt 22:35-36 “One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
o “One of them, a lawyer” – This description tells us two things about the man chosen to challenge the Lord – 1. He was a Pharisee 2. He was well educated and a master of rhetoric.
o “Testing Him” – The question was asked in order to trip Him up and put the authority of the Lord to the test.
o Which is the great commandment – This was a tricky question because from the perspective of the Pharisees the religious life was all about cold legalism. The assumption was that Christ would be unable to distinguish between the “Thus say’s the Lord” commandments.
Illustration: September 11, 2001 was a good example of the kind of thing you can expect from a person whose religion is rooted in cold legalism and not love. For the legalist, the religious life is about being “like me”. They will go to any length to accomplish this, flying planes into buildings and even insulting the Lord to His face.
• Because the Pharisees came to religious life from the perspective of cold legalism, they could not see Christ standing before them. They only saw a challenge to be overcome and pride to be fed.
• This can happen to us also when we forget about the significant role of love in our religious life. We can see people as objects that need to conform rather than Children of God that need to come home.
• Apart from being changed by the love of Christ, the religious life can become dangerous and abusive.
• Today, what motivates your religious life? Is it the pride of saying – “I am right and you are wrong” or is it the Love of Christ that say’s – “God loves you deeply, come home.”
Transitional Sentence: So we have seen the request of the Pharisees, now lets take a look at…
II. THE RESPONSE OF CHRIST: (v. 37)
Explanation: Christ responds to the challenge of the Pharisees by providing the heart of the commandments of God.
THE BIBLE SAYS – Mt 22:37 “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.”