The Pharisees and Sadducees are back again in today’s passage to try to trap Jesus by asking Him the question, “Teacher, which commandment of the Law is the greatest?” (Matthew 22:36, NRSV). Since there are 613 commandments in the Hebrew Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy), this was a tricky question indeed! “Do not murder” seems pretty important. “Do not lie” and “Do not steal” are good ones too. “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” covers a lot of ground (Leviticus 19:2, NRSV). How would Jesus answer?
Jesus does not miss a beat, and answers His interrogators with not one, but two simple commands: Love God and Love Others. That’s it. All of the other 613 laws and commands can be summarized in those four words. Pretty simple, right?
But as the saying goes, these two simple commandments only take a minute to learn, yet require a lifetime to master. We will spend our entire lives discovering what it truly means to love the Lord with our whole hearts, our complete souls, and our entire minds. We will daily have to learn what it means to set aside our own selfishness to truly love those around us. Then, once we think we have that mastered, we will meet someone who really tests our patience!
Yet when we feel trapped or tripped up by all the complications of life, it can be helpful to get back to the basics of our faith in Christ: Love God and Love Others. It’s simple!