THE GREAT AND FIRST COMMANDMENT – Matthew 22

And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the great and first commandment.

And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.

Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 ASV

Jesus’ answer is far more than a clever summary of all the commandments.

It is the fundamental commandment underlying the whole economy of redemption.

Above everything else, God desires and commands his human children to love him totally and completely.

That is why Christ came.

That is the purpose God had in saving man, that the Father might be loved for his own blessed sake.

Such a plea for love was lost upon people like the Pharisees.

A bleeding child might have pleaded for the affection of a mad dog with the same results!

In a technical sense, all the law and prophets do hang on the twin injunctions Christ named before the Pharisees.

The first five words of the decalogue deal with man’s relation to God, and the second five have to do with man’s relationship to men.

The fifth commandment might go in either group.

A profoundly significant deduction required by Christ’s words on that occasion is that man’s heavenward duties are more important, ranking higher, than his man-ward duties.

The first commandment is to love the Lord; the second is to love thy neighbor.

This, of course, is utterly different from the prevailing concept that lays great stress on human obligations such as “Thou shalt not kill,” etc., but makes the other class of religious obligations secondary.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

John 15:10 RSV

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