“The Greatest Commandment”

Matthew 22.35-46

Preached at Rochford Congregational Church

Sunday 2nd October 2016 AM

By Rev. Andrew Leach


Can you recall your first ever interview?

There have been a number of famous interviewers who were said to put their guests at ease, Michael Parkinson, Terry Wogan to name a couple.
Recently a new format has been introduced with John Bishop having an “unscripted chat” with his guest.
Radio 2, on Friday morning’s breakfast show has a number of guests and asks them to ask each other a question they have always wanted to ask!
I wonder if you could ask anyone any question – who and what your question would be.
I want to look at a question Jesus was asked:
“Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

The Question to Jesus (v36)

Why was this question asked?
The Sadducees had already sought to undermine Jesus with their question but had been silenced.

I was intrigued to see Donald Trump claim he had been asked the wrong questions in the USA election live debate this week.
You have to be ready for anything – Jesus was.

What was behind the question asked?
I remember being taught, with regard to exams, “Always read the question carefully”

Jesus knew the hearts of men.

The Law was made up of the Ten Commandments and many other laws regarding all matter of things.
Which one was most important?

Many had sought to narrow it down to a few
E.g. Solomon (Ecclesiastes 12.13)
“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
E.g. Micah (6.8)
“To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”
Could Jesus match such wisdom and insight?

The question was asked by an expert in the Law (v35)
Did he not know?
The question was “bigger” than an academic exercise.

The question was really:
“How do you live the best sought of life?”
“What thing must take priority and be done above all others?”
It raised the ultimate question…
“What is life about – what is life for?”

Many are still seeking an answer to that question. Perhaps you are?
Many alternative theories are put forward but when Jesus speaks we hear the “Author of life” speak!

The Answer from Jesus (v37)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and…Love your neighbour as yourself”

All the other commandments are off-shoots of this.
When you look at the Ten Commandments you can see that is true.

Exodus 20.1-11 Commands 1-4 regarding God
Exodus 20.12-17 Commands 6-10 regarding Man

In loving the Lord…
You will have no other before Him
You will not misrepresent him (with an idol)
You will revere his Name
You will regard his Day “a Sabbath to the Lord”

The command demands all of you…
Your heart (Love and devotion)
Your soul (Your praise and worship)
Your mind (Your thoughts)
Your Strength (Your service)

In loving you fellow Man…
You will respect your parents
Seek no harm to others by murder, adultery or theft
You will speak the truth and delight in the good things he enjoys.

Jesus said, “I am the truth…”
Here again he reminds us of what he knows – the truth of the scriptures…
Luke 24.27 – The Emmaus Road Discourse
Matthew 4.4, 7, 10 “It is written”

What an answer – simple yet profound!
Who could possibly keep such a command…?

The Demonstration by Jesus

Jesus did more than give a good answer. Jesus fulfilled the Law.
His sacrifice at Calvary brought an end to the sacrificial system and all its ceremonial laws.
All the blood of animal sacrifice could only cover sin – we are cleansed from sin – through faith!

Jesus – Our sacrifice for sin – knew no sin himself.
He perfectly fulfilled the requirements of God’s Law for us!
He loved the Father
With all his heart
“I have brought you glory by completing the work you gave me to do…” (John 17.4)
With all his soul
“I praise you, Father…because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children…” (Luke 10.21)
With all his mind
“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature…” (Luke 2.52)
With all his strength
“Then they led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27.31b)

All he asks is that we recognise and believe he did this for us.

The Question from Jesus (v42)

“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”

He is the Son of David – after – descendant
Jesus was this in his humanity
As Christmas approaches we will be thinking of the Baby of Bethlehem (David’s Royal City)
He is the Lord of David – before – ancestor
Jesus was this in his deity!

Jesus answer to the Pharisee was not an endorsement of DIY religion, i.e. just try and love the Lord with all you are…
No, his answer just highlighted the problem all mankind has!
However, Jesus question – if answered correctly holds out hope for all mankind!

Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is God’s anointed one.
In Jesus the Law is fulfilled.
The life God wants for Man – the life Man was made for is possible through Jesus.

When things go wrong we need the Maker’s Instructions.
When things go wrong we need the Maker’s representative to fix things.
We have God’s Law. We have God’s Son.
He carries out what is needed to make us new.
(Do you get the picture?)


John the Apostle says, “His commands are not burdensome…” – there’s no pressure
We can delight to love the Lord – with all that we are.
When we do (or aim to) we are really living – as God meant us to live.


You would be most welcome to join us for our Sunday worship services at 11am and 6.30pm to discover more about Jesus – his life, death and resurrection and what it means for us all now and for the future.

Canewdon Congregational Church, High Street

1st & 3rd Sunday of each month @ 9am

Paglesham Congregational Church, East End

3pm (2nd and 4th Sundays)


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