The Great Commandment – Matthew 22:34-40

Sunday was our first time meeting at our campuses in four months! It was so good to welcome so many of you home. Starting back meeting together is like a fresh start and there is no better time to clearly communicate and be reminded of who we are and where we are headed as a church. We have to keep the main things the main things. Jesus built His church on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission and we want to do the same. This week, we’ll look at the Great Commandment and how Jesus builds His church on love, and next week we’ll look at the Great Commission.

Love God Supremely
In Matthew 22:15, the Pharisees asked Jesus a political question about paying taxes. Then, in verse 23, the Sadducees asked him a theological question about the resurrection. Both were insincere and meant to trap Him. Right after this, we read, “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ 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.” (v. 35-36). Jesus’ response is a quote of Deuteronomy 6:5. There is one God, and our worship, love, and ultimate allegiance is to Him. We are to teach this to our children and grandchildren when we sit, walk, go to bed, and get up. He is the God who brought Israel out of Egypt and is the God who brings us out of bondage and sets us free today. Notice the repetition of the word “all.” This commandment calls for our total response and total devotion to God. “Heart” speaks of our emotions, “soul” speaks of our spirit, “mind” speaks of our intellect and thoughts, and “strength” (which is added in the Gospel of Mark) speaks of our body and will. God is not satisfied with anything less than our best! God does not want the leftovers in our life. He is first and cannot be second.

Love Others Selflessly
Jesus continues, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (v. 39-40). Jesus gave them more than they asked!  He tells us that there are two commandments that go together. You can’t have one without the other. In this second commandment, He quotes from Leviticus 19:18. How important are these two commandments? Everything in the Old Testament is built on this foundation. Notice the word “hang.” This is what we hang our hat on. This is what hangs in the balance. This is why we hang out together. This is why Jesus hung on the cross! John Piper says, “All of creation and all of redemption, hang on these two commandments. All of God’s purpose and plans hang on these two commandments.” Who are we to love? Love God and love others. How are we to love? Love with all our being. Love Him above everyone and everything else. Being a Christian is more than believing in God. It’s loving Him. The Bible says that even the demons believe in him (Ja. 2:19). At Liberty, our pursuit is to love God supremely and to love others selflessly.

We are a nation divided on everything. Jesus is calling for His church, His people, to be different. Not that we will agree on everything, you don’t even agree with your spouse on everything! But, we need to love God and to love one another. Some churches are known for being an evangelistic church, or an experience church, or a fellowship church. What kind of church is Liberty? Jesus tells us what is most important: the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. God is love. He builds His church on love. He commands His people to reflect His love (Jn. 13:34-35). We want to live in such a way that when people look at our lives they say, “Those people love God and love one another.” We exist not for ourselves but others. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” We cannot love others selflessly until we love God supremely. Pray this week that God would help you love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

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