Summary: The Greatest Commandment – Matthew chapter 22 verses 36-40 - sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:

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(1). A Controlling Opponent (vs 34).

(2). A Calculated Snare (vs 35).

(3). A Cunning Question (vs 36).

(4). A Comprehensive Answer (vs 37-40):

(5). A Challenging Application (vs 37).



• I guess you’ve seen their adverts on the TV.

• ‘Claims Direct’ type legal firms, you know the patter…

• “If you’ve been injured in an accident and need legal advice then call…”

• If like me you feel like shouting at the telly;

• “If you’ve been injured in an accident and need legal advice then call…”


• Now if the accident is sincere and someone is genuinely at fault;

• Then it is only right and proper that compensation is paid.

• But sadly so many false claims are now being made;

• And it has become a money-making industry.

• False claims, abusing the system is nothing new;


• A hundred years ago there was a very clever lawyer called F. E. Smith;

• He was a shrewd brief with a quick wit;

• Who served as the British attorney general from 1915 until 1919.

• On one occasion in court he cross-examined a young man who was claiming damages;

• For an arm injury caused by the negligence of a bus driver.

• F. E. Smith was cross-examining the claimant (who wasn’t the brightest)

• And he asked him:

• “Since you accident how high you can lift up your arm?”

• The young man cautiously raised his arm to shoulder level, his face distorted with pain.

• “Thank you,” said F.E. Smith.

• He then asked him:

• “And now, could you show us how high you could lift it before the accident?”

• Without engaging brain the young man eagerly shot his arm up above his head;

• And said “this high!”

• You will not be surprised to know that the young man lost the case!

• TRANSITION: No-one likes to be tricked, or conned or set up fall a fall!

• But that is the context, the situation surrounding our passage today.

• A group of religious leaders called Pharisees

• Descend on Jesus and try to trick him into giving a wrong answer.

(1). A Controlling opponent (vs 34).

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together”

In the gospels you will often come across those two groups of people mentioned:

• The Sadducees and Pharisees,

• Jesus was in constant conflict with them.


• The Sadducees were aristocrats, the upper class of society.

• They tended to be wealthy and held powerful positions,

• Including that of chief priests and high priest,

• And they also held the majority of the 70 seats;

• Of the Jewish ruling council called the Sanhedrin.

• So they were people of wealth and power.

• They worked hard to keep the peace by agreeing with the decisions of their Roman occupiers.

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