Matthew 22 starts with the parable of the wedding banquet; how the gospel is preached to the nations that were gentiles and their invitations to the Kings banquet. However, the guest that did not engage in self-preparation i.e. dressing appropriately was thrown out. Thereafter, the Pharisees test Jesus on finances- paying taxes to Caesar; the test of financial discipline and responsibility. It was a test of the spirit of the law and Jesus’ messiahship. The Sadducees, then challenge Him on marriage and the resurrection. As literal interpreters of the law, the Sadducees in life after death, yet they tested Him on it. When the Pharisees saw that the undisguised Sadducee inquiry failed, they conspired and returned with a new question. “What is the greatest commandment?”
Matt. 22:37-40 (NKJV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
What they failed to realize was that Jesus knew scripture; Jesus said to them: Matt. 22:29 “you err not knowing the scriptures or the power of God.” Ignorance breeds arrogance, but also error and confusion.
Commandment is an imperative backed by authority; to be obeyed or done. Commandment is given priority. Matthew 22:37, the first commandment of all beckons man to yearn for God; it calls for man to be attracted to and become more like God. Jesus stressed the importance and necessity of building a relationship with God. To become like God, you must build a relationship with Him.
Love starts and progresses; we must decide to love God and possess the determination to stay in this love for God. Perfecting love requires us to remain desirous for more of God and develop the discipline to be more like God.
The fullness of love for God is three-dimensional – heart, soul and mind. The heart, suggestive of one’s emotions and feelings; soul indicating a spiritual connectivity and sensitivity to the Spirit of God; the soul refers to the essence of man, i.e. life. The mind denotes one’s intellectual capacity and ability. Matt 22:37 demands that we love God with every dimension of our being. Love grows in capacity, from level to level. When love for God is full, then the second kind of love is activated, i.e. love for self and love for neighbor. This love is predicated on our love for God.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, under the law, God calls for Israel to love. 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
This scripture is again affirmed in Mark 12:30-31 and Luke 10:27. Without love, nothing functions well. Paul says in 1 Cor. 13:1-3, to function in the Spirit; this love is a requirement. God is love, (1 John 4:7-21) God wants us to love; it is a commandment. God’s love gave a gift, i.e. Jesus, thus our love should lead us to give. Loving one another indicates perfection in love, for God is seen in our fellow men. Love makes us Christ-like in this world for we are to love the brethren and not hate them. Love ought to evoke faith and eradicate fear.
God’s love predates our existence and transcends our lives. God’s provisions and laws are predicated on love. May we not stray outside of love into seeking our own way out of His will.
When we love God, it is easy to obey Him.