Today’s reading: Matthew 21:23-22:46
My selection: Matthew 22:35-40
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And 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. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
My reflections: The various parties among the Jews (Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, lawyers, etc.) hammered Jesus with questions, all with the purpose of entangling Him in His words (22:15). In every case, He turned their questions into teaching opportunities. He even stumped them with questions they could not, or would not, answer.
In this text, Jesus shows them that the Pharisees emphasis on outward law-keeping misses the point of the law. It is not merely a matter of outward actions but of inward attitudes. The supreme attitude required by the law is love for God, first, and for others, second. Outward actions are a necessary expression of inward love as long as they reflect it. As I John 3:18 says: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
My challenge: To love this way, we need changed hearts. Our natural, sinful, human disposition, is to love ourselves first, leaving only the leftovers for God and others. The world religions often emphasize outward behaviors, such as, required times for fasting and positions for prayer. The gospel of Jesus Christ focuses on the problem of our hearts and the need for a new spiritual birth by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:4-7). How is your heart today? Do you love God with all your being? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Do a heart check. Ask the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in you toward God and others (Gal. 5:22-23).
Tomorrow’s reading: Matthew 23:1-24:51