The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40)
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
The newly married husband loved his wife very much and was concerned when she came down with a cold. He was quick to wait upon her every need and sacrifice his time to help her. Time goes on: She became sick again with a cold. Sadly this time, he was not so quick to be inconvenienced to serve her. Time goes on: She’s very sick, and her husband was required to go and pick up medication for her. He was only willing to go when a television commercial came on. Time goes on: She has another cold that is so severe, she can’t stop coughing. His callous response this time was, “Stop coughing. I can’t hear the TV.”
This attitude and response can also be true in our relationship with God. When we first trust Christ as our personal Savior, we are excited and happy about everything we are learning about Him. We want to tell everyone we meet about Christ. Time goes on: We read a good passage of Scripture and think we’ll study it out at a later time. Time goes on: We hear a message from God’s Word, but instead of listening, we think, “Oh, I’ve heard that before” and close our ears. Time goes on: We grow cold to the things of God and communicate less often with Him. Without proper care and interest, both physical and spiritual relationships can grow apart.
The Sadducees and Pharisees were always looking for opportunities to trip up Jesus. In Matthew 22:36, they bring up this question, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” In the book of Numbers, there are 613 separate commands given. (We commonly think only of the 10 commandments.) Knowing this, the Sadducees and Pharisees considered this a good question to tempt Jesus. 238 of the commandments are affirmative - do this, and 365 are negative - don’t do this. How would you answer? If someone asks you, “What do you think? What will you do with Jesus?” Because we will be challenged, it is imperative that we know what we believe and why we believe what we do.
Jesus goes to the heart of the matter. In verse 37 Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.“ John 21:15-17 “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
Three times Jesus questions Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter’s first response was rather tepid. “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” (I’m fond of you.) The second response wasn’t much better. “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” (I care about you.) Jesus asks the third time, “lovest thou me?” Peter is grieved. Perhaps he is remembering the three times he denied Jesus, and he says, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus gives Peter a job to do. “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus wants to know this about us? Does He have to ask us three times? Do you love Me? Do you love Me with all your heart, soul, and mind? Are you willing to give your life for Me? Are you willing to go and tell others about Me? Jesus wants us to live for Him and serve Him. Are we committed to reaching others? Are we willing to go the extra mile to faithfully study His Word and to fellowship with Him and others? What in your life shows your commitment to God? What are you doing on a daily basis to serve God and others?