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.” (Matthew 22:34-40)
Leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion the religious leaders were pulling out all the stops to trap Jesus into saying something that would prove He was not who He claimed to be. In one round of questioning, a Pharisee who was an expert in the law asked Jesus which of the commandments was the greatest. With over 600 laws, trying to distinguish the greatest ones was something the Pharisees spent their time contemplating. Jesus didn’t waste time with a seemingly simple answer:
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
There are times I simply don’t know what to pray or feel too lost in my thoughts and my day. Maybe you struggle with these same feelings. Here is a simple prayer that may help during those times:
“God help me to love you well and love people well.”
Pretty simple, but if we can put these two commandments at the forefront of our mind throughout the day, everything else may be shaped through that lens. During this week while we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we can look to Him as the perfect example of how to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and love others as ourselves. He endured the cross in loving obedience to God the Father for our sins because of His great love for us.
Questions for Contemplation
- This week, what is one practical thing you can do to love someone else as you love yourself?
- Who can you invite to church this Easter? One way we can love others as ourselves is to care about their salvation and personal relationship with Jesus. This is a great opportunity for them to hear the Good News!