When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
In Jesus’ time, the Judaic elite priesthood of Pharisees and Sadducees again and again tried to trip the Son of God by asking what they thought were difficult and clever questions, which they were certain would entrap Him into giving the “wrong” answer.
Previously, the rabbinic Pharisees had asked Jesus whether it was lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar, knowing full well how the Hebrews were chafing under Roman rule. As recounted in Matthew 22:18-21:
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
In today’s reading, the Pharisees, once again, attempt to entrap Jesus by asking Him which commandment or law is the greatest. Once again, Jesus gave a brilliant retort by cutting to the quick, to the gravamen or heart of the issue — which is that the greatest commandment of all is to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Indeed, if we love God above all things, including our selves, we naturally would be true to the Mosaic Ten Commandments:
- We would worship no one (including ourselves) but God.
- We would not take the name of God in vain.
- We would keep holy the sabbath day.
- We would honor our [earthly] father and mother.
- We would not kill another human being.
- We would not commit adultery.
- We would not steal.
- We would not lie.
- We would not covet another’s spouse.
- We would not covet another’s goods.
We would observe all those commandments because the last thing we would want to do is to hurt — by offending — the Creator, whom we love with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole our mind, and with all our strength.
Think about it . . . .
May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,