Love God; Love Others
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
22:34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,
22:35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
22:36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
22:37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
22:38 This is the greatest and first commandment.
22:39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
22:41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question:
22:42 “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.”
22:43 He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
22:44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”‘?
22:45 If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?”
22:46 No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
- The two sections of the passage for today (the greatest commandment- vs. 34-40) and the question about the Messiah being King David’s son (vs. 41-45) seem like they aren’t related but they actually are. Both reveal Jesus to be a devout Jew, highlight the intensifying opposition of the Pharisees, and offer a summary of Jesus’ divine identity and mission.
- When we come to this passage, Jesus has triumphantly arrived in Jerusalem and has come under attack by the various factions of the religious elite. This encounter is just the latest in the series. When asked which commandment is the greatest, Jesus responds with the traditional understanding that any good Jew would have been able to rattle off, no problem. The Shema: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” is found in Deuteronomy 6:5. Then he goes on to add another that is “like” the first: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” from Leviticus 19:18.
- These two texts together summarize all Jesus had lived and taught throughout his ministry. By quoting the Shema, Jesus points out that the ultimate goal of the law is to get people to focus their attention on God. You can’t profess to love God without loving what and who God loves and that’s everybody. You can’t oppress, exclude, or discriminate against any of God’s creation, even your enemies. Jesus called into question or even condemned the practices of the Pharisees that abused their power and violated these principles (ch. 23: 1-12).
- In the sermon on the mount, Jesus had taught that “God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” ( Matt. 5:45). Therefore, we should indiscriminately love as God loves as well. This is the way to be “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48)
- After the Pharisees question Jesus, he turns the tables and asks a question, quoting Psalm 110:1 to get at the issues of the Messiah’s identity. This exchange points out that the Messiah is both in the line of David and yet precedes his lineage. What he was getting at was that Jesus himself fulfills the law and the prophets.
- The bottom line was and still is that Jesus revealed through his life and ministry that his concern was not just for the Jews, but for everyone. God’s mission was and is larger than any one group of people and those who love God should behave in ways that sometimes may call for them to sacrifice personal privileges and subordinate all affiliations to their identity as a follower of Jesus.
- What does all this mean for us?
- We care for all of God’s children—who are his children? Everyone, because he is the author of all life. We may not like what they do—but let’s distinguish that from who they are.
- In this election season—we VOTE!!!!
- We wear masks. It’s not just about our personal interest, but love of others. Philippians 2: 4, 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
- We give to causes that will advance the mission of God. Consider ministries outside the church–Health Care worker food program, Food Pantry including Holiday initiatives, and inside the church—preschool outreach program with school supplies and educational resources, and the Flu Clinic sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Pharmacy to be held on Election Day.
- We love God. We show that by serving our neighbors. Jesus said, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25: 40
1 John 4: 19-21, 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.