Read Matthew 22:34-40
The Gospels record that the day after His entry into Jerusalem the Pharisees and Sadducees seek to question Jesus and ensnare Him so that they might charge and arrest Him. They challenge where His authority to heal, deliver and preach comes from, they ask about paying taxes to Caesar and about the woman who had seven husbands and the resurrection.
The last question that he is asked in Matthew’s Gospel is by a lawyer:
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?
How would you have answered this question? How would you summarize all of God’s commandments to the people who are called by His name?
Looking at the Law, what was the aim or telos (Greek word for aim, purpose, goal) of it?
After forty years of wandering in the wilderness and before entering the Promised Land, Moses recounts what has brought the Israelites to this point. In doing so, he recounts the 10 Commandments and other commandments. Moses then lets them know of the choice that they have in obeying or disobeying. If they chose to obey God’s Law, then they will have chosen life and blessing. If they disobey God’s ways, then they will have chosen death and being cursed (Deuteronomy 30:19). The aim of God giving the Law was to impart His life to His people. As they obeyed the commandments, they would enter into God’s way of living.
Central to this Way of living is the Love of God. This is reflected in the most important prayer for the Jewish culture: “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
Jesus quotes this as His answer to the question of which is the first law. Where the Law of Moses and the Law of Jesus agree is that the Great Way of living for humanity is loving God. Right behind this is loving one’s neighbor. It was His love of the Father that enabled Jesus to follow the Father’s will wherever it took Him, even to the cross.
All of us have such a need for love to fill us and to be the great operating principle of our way of life. Jesus gave us the example of the Greatest Way of Life and the means to walk in that Way. Let us, therefore, throw off anything that hinders this better way of life, giving up whatever pales in comparison and diligently loving God as we consider how God has loved us in Jesus.
5-Minute Suggested Order of Prayer
(1 min) Pray: “Holy Spirit, I present to you my heart, from which my way of life is grounded. Shine the light of your love in my heart to any places that do not follow your path of love.”
(3 min) Confess and agree with any sin that is recalled. Thank the Spirit for the invitation to walk in His love.
(1 min) Pray: “Holy Spirit, I present to You the rest of my day and set it apart as sacred in this Holy Week. I invite you into every moment to guide me in your loving way that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”