Matthew 22:37-40 (The Greatest Commandment 2: Loving God and Loving One’s Neighbor)

What did the scribe mean by the “great” commandment in Mat 22:36?  See Mar 12:28 and the NAS text note there.  By “great” or “foremost” or “first” are we to understand that some commandments are less binding than others?  Cf. Jam 2:10.  In what sense then may one commandment be greater than another?  See Mat 22:40.  If one or two commandments are foremost in the sense of being all-encompassing, so that if we obey those we will be obeying all the rest, what is the purpose of all the rest?  Think: without all the rest would our fallen nature ever even begin to understand what it means to love God and love our neighbor?  Cf. Jer 17:9 and think: what question did a lawyer earlier in Jesus’ ministry who understood the greatest commandments ask of Him?  See Luk 10:29.  In what way are some commandments also greater than others in the sense of there being greater consequences for disobeying them?  See Mat 23:23, 1Jo 5:16-17.

What commandment did Jesus say was the greatest, and where is it found?  See Mat 22:37-38, Mar 12:29-30, Deut 6:4-5.  What do the Jews call this passage?  Note: this is called the shema from the first word in the Hebrew text meaning “hear”[1]; it is the equivalent to Jews what John 3:16 is to Christians.  What is the significance of loving God with all one’s heart and soul and might?  Cf. 1Th 5:23 and notice that the spirit, soul and body may also be thought of as composing the whole person.  Why do the New Testament versions of this foremost commandment include loving God with the mind, and what is meant by it?  Note: The Jews along with other ancient peoples understood the heart as the seat of one’s mind or intellect, so that one’s thoughts ultimately originated in the heart; later peoples began to differentiate between the heart and the mind, so that when the LXX was translated from the Hebrew scriptures an effort was made to distinguish between them; see for example Gen 8:21, 17:17, 24:5, 27:41, Deut 4:39, and Jos 22:5 where the Hebrew “heart” was translated as “mind”[2]; see also how the scribe summarizes the soul and mind in Mar 12:33.  What does it mean practically to love God with all one’s mind, and why is that especially important to children and youth in their education?  What does it mean practically to love God with all one’s strength, and why is that especially important to us as we grow older in regard to exercising self-control over our fleshly appetites?

What did Jesus say was the second great commandment?  See Mat 22:39.  Who does this commandment assume that all men love naturally?  What does this teach us about the mantra of modern psychology that teaches that the root of so many of man’s problems is that he doesn’t love himself enough?  Is it the case that men don’t think enough about themselves, or that they think too much of themselves?  See Rom 15:1, 2Co 5:15, Phi 2:4,21.  Indeed, what does Paul list very first in describing the character of men in the last days?  See 2Ti 3:1-2.  Although man’s self-love has been corrupted by his fallen nature, in what sense is it not wrong and indeed good for a man to love himself?  Think: should we not as men who are created in the image of God have respect for the dignity of our nature so as to live above the animal instincts of mere beasts?  Contrast 2Pe 2:12-16.  Should we not love our own bodies, that are fearfully and wonderfully made, enough to not pollute them with fornication or destroy them with drunkenness, drugs, or a gluttonous appetite?  Cf. 1Co 6:18, 1Th 4:1-5, Exo 15:26.  Rather, should we not nourish and care for our bodies?  Cf. Eph 5:28-29.  And should we not care enough for our eternal souls to seek out the truths that will deliver us from our bondage to sin and corrupted state into God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy?

 


1. Shema Yisrael, Adonai elohenu, Adonai ehad).

2. Fascinating fact: “Neuroscientists have recently discovered exciting new information about the heart that makes us realize it’s far more complex than we’d ever imagined. Instead of simply pumping blood, it may actually direct and align many systems in the body so that they can function in harmony with one another.  These scientists have found that the heart has its own independent nervous system – a complex system referred to as “the brain in the heart.” There are at least forty thousand neurons (nerve cells) in the heart – as many as are found in various subcortical centers of the brain…. Scientists are discovering that our hearts may actually be the “intelligent force” behind the intuitive thoughts and feelings we all experience.”  http://www.therealessentials.com/followyourheart.html.   “Although it is not well known, the heart sends far more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart and the signals the heart sends to the brain can influence perception, emotional processing and higher cognitive functions.  This system and circuitry is viewed by neurocardiology researchers as a “heart brain”.”  http://www.heartmath.org/research/overview.html.

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