"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Two Great Commandments (22:34-40)
INTRODUCTION 1. In the temple during His final week prior to His crucifixion, Jesus was questioned by various religious groups... a. The Pharisees and Herodians sought to entangle Him with a question about paying taxes - Mt 22:15-22 b. The Sadducees tried to trip Him on the subject of the resurrection - Mt 22:23-33 -- His answers caused people to marvel and be astonished - Mt 22:22, 33 2. The Pharisees tried once again, this time sending one of their lawyers... a. Testing Him as to which is the great commandment in the law - Mt 22:34-36 b. Jesus replied by offering two great commandments 1) The first pertained to loving God - Mt 22:37-38 2) The second pertained to loving one's neighbor - Mt 22:39 -- Upon these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets - Mt 22:40 3. While we no longer live under the Old Law, these "Two Great Commandments" are still very important to the Christian... a. For they certainly have their counterpart in the New Covenant b. And keeping the commandments of God is just as important now as it was under the Old Covenant - cf. 1Co 7:19; 1Jn 5:3 [It is proper to ask, therefore, do we love God and our neighbor as we should? Do we understand what is involved in loving God and our fellow man? Perhaps by reflecting upon these "Two Great Commandments" we can find the answer to such questions...] I. THE COMMAND TO LOVE GOD A. UNDER THE OLD COVENANT... 1. The Israelites were expected to love God (Deut 6:5)... a. "with all your heart" b. "with all your soul" c. "with all your strength" d. "with all your mind" - cf. Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 10:27 (the Septuagint has "mind, soul, strength" in Deut 6:5) -- Emotionally, physically, intellectually, they were to love God 2. Thus they were to love God with their whole being, not like some who... a. Serve God emotionally, while committing intellectual suicide b. Serve God intellectually, but with no emotion c. Serve God emotionally and intellectually, but with no actual obedience requiring the exercise of strength (i.e., action) -- Note how the Law stated their responsibility in Deut 10:12-13 B. HOW WE ARE TO LOVE GOD TODAY... 1. Does God expect any less of us? Of course not! We are to love God: a. With all our heart - cf. 1Co 16:22 (note the use of the word "phileo") b. With all our soul (body and mind) - cf. Ro 12:1-2 c. With all our strength - cf. He 10:36 d. With all our mind - cf. Col 3:1; Php 4:8 2. We demonstrate our love for God through keeping His commandments a. This is the love of God - 1Jn 5:3 b. This is evidence that we love Jesus - Jn 14:15 C. THE BLESSING OF KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS... 1. We enjoy a special relationship with God and Jesus - Jn 14:21-23 2. We will abide in the love of God - Jn 15:10; 1Jn 2:5 3. Our prayers will be answered - 1Jn 3:22 D. HOW TO GROW IN OUR LOVE FOR GOD... 1. By allowing God's love for us to move us - cf. 1Jn 4:9-10; Ro 5:8 a. God loved us, even while we were still sinners b. When we reflect upon His love for us, we will love Him more! 2. By asking God to help us grow in love - cf. 2Th 3:5 a. Paul prayed that the Lord would direct the Thessalonians into the love of God b. If he could pray such for others, can we not pray the same for ourselves? 3. By praying, and growing in love when He answers - cf. Ps 116:1-2 a. David loved the Lord because He heard His supplications b. Perhaps if we prayed more, and received answers to our prayers more, we would love God more! 4. By keeping the word of God - cf. 1Jn 2:5 a. The love of God is perfected in those who keep God's word b. Therefore the more we obey Him, the more our love for God will grow! [Do we love God any less than what was expected of the Israelites? We certainly have compelling reasons to love Him even more (e.g., the gift of His Son)! Now let's consider...] II. THE COMMAND TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR A. ENJOINED UPON CHRISTIANS... 1. We owe it to our neighbors to love them - Ro 13:8a 2. When fully applied, it fulfills what the Law required - Ro 13: 8b-10 a. Five of the Ten Commandments spoke to working no ill toward our fellow man b. If one truly loves his or her neighbor, they will not be guilty of killing, adultery, stealing, lying, or covetousness c. For sins (and many others) do grave harm to our neighbor B. ENHANCED BY A NEW COMMAND... 1. Jesus taught us to love one another - Jn 13:34-35 2. This new command takes our love to a higher level a. No longer do we just love one another as we love ourselves b. We must love one another as Christ loved us! 1) He loved us with the greatest love - Jn 15:13 2) He became poor, that we might be rich - 2Co 8:9 3. Thus no one can use low self-esteem (or low self-love) as an excuse not to love others as they should C. EXPERIENCED WHEN WE KEEP GOD'S COMMANDMENTS... 1. We demonstrate true love of one another by keeping the commandments of God - 2Jn 5-6 2. This is how we know that we really love one another - 1Jn 5:2 a. Not by just claiming to love one another b. But by setting the proper example, and encouraging each other by the example we set! D. EDUCATED BY THE EXAMPLE OF GOD... 1. We develop love for one another by being taught of God - cf.1Th 4:9-10 a. The Thessalonians had been taught of God to love their brethren b. They did so remarkably, though there was always room for improvement 2. Jesus by His own example demonstrates what true love is - 1Jn 3:16-18 -- If we wish to learn how to love one another properly, look to God and Jesus! CONCLUSION 1. How great were these two commandments...to love God, and to love your neighbor? a. "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." - Mt 22:40 b. "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." - Ro 13:9 -- These two commands summed up what the Old Law required of the Israelites 2. When one truly loves God, and loves his neighbor as himself... a. He is on the road that leads to eternal life! - cf. Lk 10:25-28 b. He is on the path that leads to the kingdom of God! - cf. Mk 12:28-34 If you wish to receive eternal life, and become a citizen of the kingdom, then demonstrate your love for God by obeying His commands (cf. Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:16), and live a life of faith in Jesus that is focused on loving God and your fellow man!