Matthew 22:36-40

Mat 22:36 (KJB)
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

The law of Moses contained 613 commandments in the law. The 613 laws were divided into two sections. The first was the positive commands of which there were 248 and the negative commands of which there were 365. Both of these sections were subdivided into major and lesser commands. These divisions even contained a judgment on how hard the command was to obey. Out of this total number of commands, this lawyer wanted to know which of these laws was the greatest.

Mat 22:37 (KJB)
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Jesus did not go into any difficult explanation concerning the greatest commandment, instead He went back to Deuteronomy 6:5 for the greatest of these commandments. (Deu 6:5 KJV) And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:5 is part of the “Shema” which later became the confession of faith in Judaism. (Deu 6:4 KJV) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: The “Shema” affirms the unity and the uniqueness of God. The name “LORD” shows He is the covenant keeper and has revealed Himself in great deliverance when He delivered the nation of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. As God, (Elohim) from a root word in Hebrew which conveys majesty and power which means His people can trust Him in faith and love. Then the word “all” speaks about total submission and dedication and completely excludes any half measures. The heart is where all the emotions of a person emanate from and especially love. The soul is the center of the personality and is the bridge to the Spirit of God in a believer. This means that one must love the Lord God down to the very core of an individual, down to his will. The mind is where decisions are made and where things are analyzed. Their mind must be totally given over to the love and service of God and to make decisions which are in keeping with the attributes of God.

Mat 22:38 (KJB)
This is the first and great commandment.

Jesus pinpoints this as the first and great commandment. The word “first” is in the ordinal form in the Greek which means it is the first in order, before all other commandments. The word “great” means it is the “largest” which expresses an extensive or unusual degree of anything. It extends into every area of a person’s life. Then we read the word “the” which is a definite article meaning that there is no question as to which one is the great commandment of the law.

Mat 22:39 (KJB)
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

While the lawyer only asked for the greatest law, Jesus extends that question out and adds another law which is similar in nature to the first one. The word “the” is a definite article making this without question the second greatest commandment. The word “second” in the Greek is also in the ordinal form which means that there is no question that it is second in line after the first one above. Loving your neighbor as yourself means you want the highest good for them. You place them before you. Let’s bring it down to today. You have two slices of pizza left and one is bigger, you give them the bigger one. Now let’s look at the spiritual lesson here. To desire the best for your neighbor, is to desire them to become saved. If you are saved, then you know you are on your way to Heaven and you will also know where your unsaved neighbor is going. You want to see them become saved so they will not go to hell. Wanting to see another person saved for eternity is the highest form of love because with that desire will come rejection and persecution, and one that overcomes those circumstances will show true love. Remember what a neighbor is. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells the people that the Samaritan was showing love to the one who was robbed and left for dead on the Jericho road. Now this Samaritan did not know who this man was until he came upon him but yet Jesus qualified this Samaritan as a neighbor to the man who was robbed. (Luke 10:36-37 KJV) Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? {37} And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. He did not fear what others thought of him or what they might do to him, he did what was right for the man. (1 John 4:18 KJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Mat 22:40 (KJB)
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What Jesus is stating here is that all the Hebrew Scriptures depend upon these two commandments. Jesus had basically reorganized the Scriptures into two divisions. Just as the lawyers had created divisions of all 613 commandments, Jesus simplifies it by placing it into two camps. This can easily be seen in the ten commandments. The first four would appertain to the first great commandments and the last six would appertain to the second great commandment. Let us look at two examples:

First Great Commandment - Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

(Exo 20:7 KJV) Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

If one truly loves the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind, they would never even think of taking God’s name in vain and not only swearing it but in a joke which unfortunately is a virus that runs through Christianity.

Second Great Commandment - Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

(Exo 20:17 KJV) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

If one truly loves their neighbor, they will not secretly covet the neighbor’s possessions and especially his wife. Coveting can be done without anyone knowing it and true love will reject coveting, whether private or public.