But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus did a lot of teaching on the Tuesday before his arrest and crucifixion. If you want to read the rest, here are the texts:
- The disciples see the withered fig tree (Matthew 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-21)
- Temple controversies in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:23-23:39; Mark 11:27-12:44; Luke 20:1-21:4)
- Olivet Discourse on the return to Bethany (Matthew 24:1-25:46; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36)
But I want to mention this part of Matthew 22. Jesus is asked what the most important thing for us to do is. And he answers. Are you grateful? I am. I didn't have to answer. There were other questions that Pharisees asked, which he refused to answer. He didn't have to answer this question, but he did. He really is good.
His answer, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." The most important thing for you and for me to do is to love God. Not half-heartedly, but completely. With our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind. That doesn't really leave much space for other first loves.
But Jesus is so good and loving that he answered another question too. He told us what the second most important thing is. To love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. This takes effort, but our best efforts are far short of enabling us, unless we are living the greatest command.
And so I ask myself and you this Easter week: Are we genuinely loving God with our whole heart or just the part leftover at the end of the day (or week, or month, or year)? He only wants the whole thing. He's worth more.
If you attend Cornerstone you might remember the "Learning to Love" series from November 2008. I encourage you to listen to the sermon, "Learning to Love pt 2 - Why Love?" that I preached November 16. Click here and then go to the "Sermons" page and scroll down to find that sermon.