Matthew 22:34-40

Matthew 22:34-40

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’* 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’** 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” * Deuteronomy 6:5 and ** Leviticus 19:18
Matthew 22:34-40

This encounter between the Pharisees and Jesus is one of favorites. Once again He uses His knowledge of the Old Testament against them quoting from Deuteronomy and Leviticus, quotes they should know and have expected in reply. Nor should it be any surprise that both are centered around love for as John told us a few decades later

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16

Paul said it a bit differently, but with the very same message in a few more favorites of mine, however the second is what we are supposed to do with our faith.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6b

Nonetheless, let us speak (or write) frankly, loving with all of one’s heart, soul, and mind is not that easy. After all, what is the meaning of Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind? A few commentaries make an effort to explain this

The meaning of this is, thou shalt love him with all thy faculties or powers. Thou shalt love him supremely, more than all other beings and things, and with all the ardor possible. To love him with all the heart is to fix the affections supremely on him, more strongly than on anything else, and to be willing to give up all that we hold dear at his command.
Barnes Notes on the Bible

thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; that is, with all the powers and faculties of the soul, the will, the understanding, and the affections; in the most sincere, upright, and perfect manner, without any dissimulation and hypocrisy, and above all objects whatever, for this the law requires; and which man, in his state of innocence, was capable of, though now fallen, he is utterly unable to perform; so far from it, that without the grace of God, he has no true love at all to God, in his heart, soul and mind, but all the reverse; his carnal mind is enmity against God, and everything that is divine and good, or that belongs unto him: and though this is now the case of man
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

I prefer the latter as it speaks to the gift of Grace as being necessary to really love God. I think this is true for Grace is something God chooses to provide. Being totally sovereign and our creator He chooses to love us and offer us Grace. It is no wonder He wants and expects love in return. And just as He offers us grace through His love He wants us to love others in the same way – offering grace to those around us.

May we embrace the Grace we are offered and find ways to share it with others; it is His desire that we do so.

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Matthew 19:7-9