“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:34-40
In Matthew 22, the Pharisees and Sadducees are taking turns in the proverbial boxing ring with Jesus and losing badly. It’s not exactly clear what they hoped to gain by asking the question, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Perhaps they had added so many legalistic rules and regulations that it seemed impossible for Jesus to give a perfect answer. Yet, they knew as well as Him, the words of Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
Maybe it surprised them when Jesus held up Leviticus 19:18 alongside it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even if the religious leaders thought they were fulfilling the first commandment with strict adherence to and enforcement of the law, certainly the second commandment would bring them up short. However, I suspect they had a different concept of “love your neighbor” than what Jesus describes in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 27).
It seems like a lot of discussion in Christian circles these days argues a similar question. What is most important? Of all the Bible’s teachings, what is the main thing? What is most imperative in our culture? Some days, trying to reconcile different viewpoints makes my head feel ready to explode. In times like these, I must return to the simplicity of Jesus’ answer to find clarity and peace.
When I can’t make sense of anything else ~ Love God with my whole being, and love the person next to me as I love myself. Everything hangs on that. May we be people who can step outside the fray and keep the main thing the main thing.
~ Jen Hanson