Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? What about the Resurrection? Which is the first commandment of all?
The Pharisees and the Sadducees question Jesus at every turn. Trying in every way to get him to say something or do something so that they could arrest him and have him put to death. He was a threat. He threatened their very way of life.
Matthew 22 records these questions and beginning in verse 34, they ask the last one.
When the Pharisees had heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing him, and saying, Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus 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 first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees had the people in bondage. They were no better than the Romans. They exploited what they knew of the Scriptures and twisted it for their profit. They tried very hard to be seen as holy and pure, set apart and better than everyone else. Then comes Jesus saying things like, “you hypocrites, you brood of vipers, you whitewashed tombs.”
(Matthew 22:18, Matthew 12:34, Matthew 23:27-28)
Check out the entire chapter of Matthew 23.
This angered them and disrupted their world. They controlled the people, they told them what to believe. And here we have Jesus telling the people that these leaders were not what they appeared to be. Jesus told them that He had truth, even deeper, He was Truth.
This reminds me of the world we live in today. We have an entire culture that is telling us what is true, and it is completely contrary to The Truth, the Word of God.
Jesus told them the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind. And to love others as you love yourself. Think about this for a minute. Jesus was telling the Pharisees that the most important thing on the planet that they could do was to love God with the whole of who they are. This is a group of people who loved themselves for sure and wanted everyone else to love them as well. They wanted to do good works, they wanted people to see how wonderful and righteous they were; however, they were missing the mark, they weren’t doing the most important thing.
Jesus was trying to get the Pharisees to see that they could not in any way keep the Law. He was trying to get them to see their desperate need for a Savior.
This commandment was first given to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 6. Verse 4 says:
Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
He goes on to say that you should diligently teach these commandments to your children throughout the day, everyday and that you should even write them on the doorposts of your home. In other words God should consume your life.
My Pastor tells us all the time that Jesus does not want to be a part of your life, He wants to BE your life.
Process that for a moment.
Is Jesus your life?
Or is He something that you add to your weekly schedule?
When you’re making plans, do you seek His will or do you hope He’ll bless you no matter what?
Do you diligently teach your children and live your life as an example or do you say, “do as I say not as I do?”
How do we do that? How do we make Jesus our life?
How do we come to love Him with the total of who we are?
First, we must surrender our will to His, allowing the Holy Spirit control of our lives. Without the Holy Spirit in our hearts, it is impossible for us to do anything that pleases God. As Christians, we have the Spirit within us and access to His power. With that said, we can pray and ask God to help us in the area of loving Him more. Just as the man in Mark 9:24 prayed for Jesus to help his unbelief, we can ask God to help us to love Him with the whole of who we are.
We must also spend focused, quality time with Him every day. You don’t just automatically love your spouse deeply, with your whole heart; it takes time for your love to grow. I can honestly say that I love my husband much more today and at a much deeper level than I did when we were first married over 30 years ago. Why? Because over the years, I’ve been intentional about spending time with him, getting to know him better than anyone else. I know his dreams and his fears. I know what makes him happy and what makes him angry because I’ve invested the time it takes to build a relationship, and he’s done the same for me.
That is how we grow to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. Invest in your relationship, talk to Him, get to know Him, spend time in His Word, and watch your love grow!
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