Day 22

Jesus Names the Great Commandments

from the reading plan

Matthew 22:1-46, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 1 John 5:1-3

Like a lot of guys, I’m a sports fan and grew up playing sports. Like many fans, I’ve been in my fair share of discussions about the “greatest” players in every sport. While it’s a subjective (and ultimately futile) exercise, sports fans love debating this kind of stuff. We want to take a stand for Michael Jordan or Lebron James. We want to argue about whether Hank Aaron is the real home run king and if Tom Brady is truly the best NFL player ever.

Even if you’re not a sports fan, you might have similar conversations in other areas. You might talk about the greatest presidents who ever lived, the world’s finest actors, or the best cars ever made. Whatever your area of interest, there’s a debate to be had about the king of your mountain. We’ve even come up with a term for the very best: GOAT, the simple acronym for “greatest of all time.”

As you read through Matthew’s Gospel, you see that such debates were taking place thousands of years ago. They weren’t about sports or politics, but Matthew 22 reveals that first-century Jewish leaders had an ongoing theological “GOAT” conversation.

These experts in the law argued about which of the Old Testament laws was the “greatest of all time.” And, predictably, they pulled Jesus into the debate (vv.34–36). Whether it was an attempt to embarrass Him or to validate His credentials as a teacher, they demanded that Jesus tell them which law (of the more than 600 options) topped His list.

Jesus’s response was simple: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (v.37).

For Jesus, the whole Hebrew Bible could be summed up with loving God and loving others. Loving God with every fiber of one’s being was the greatest in terms of first-century faith. It’s also what should motivate our lives as believers today.

That’s because, while the Mosaic law has been fulfilled perfectly by Jesus has come and gone, love stands the test of time. As the apostle John pointed out, God draws a direct line between loving Him and obeying Him (1John 5:1–4). We are called to love God, and we demonstrate that love by doing what He says.

Of course, none of us is perfect. We all make mistakes, and we all fall short of loving Him the way we should. But that’s the goal. That’s the bull’s eye.

Loving God is the greatest thing we can do, so it’s worth the effort.

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