MATTHEW 22:34-40 THE KING TESTED BY A LAWYER
34. But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
The multitude that had listened to Christ, and had been “astonished” at his answers to the Sadducees, would soon publish the tidings of their defeat When the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they doubtless felt pleased that their natural enemies had been routed, but grieved that Jesus had again proved victorious in argument. He had, in one day, baffled the chief priests and elders of the people, Pharisees and their disciples, Herodians and Sadducees. If he continued to prevail, all the people would be won over to his side. So once more they met in consultation: they were gathered together . They must think of some fresh device, some new plan for his overthrow. How persevering wicked men are in their evil courses! While we deplore their wickedness, let us imitate their persistency.
35. The one of them, which was a lawyer asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Apparently, the result of their conference was that they selected one of their number to put to Jesus another enquiry: one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question. Mark says that this man was one of the scribes, one of those constantly engaged in copying the Law, and also one who explained its meaning to the people. He was a gentleman “learned in the Law.” He came, either as the representative of the Pharisees, or on his own account, and asked Jesus a question, tempting him . Putting the mildest meaning on the word “tempting”, it conveys the idea of testing and trying in an unfriendly sense. Probably he was a man of clearer light and greater discernment than his associates; for he was evidently only half-hearted in the work of “tempting” Christ. Mark says that he had heard our Lord’s words to the Sadducees, “and perceiving that he had answered them well,” he put his own question to Jesus. He was evidently a man of candor, possessing a considerable amount of spiritual knowledge. This may help to explain the reason for his question:—
36. Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
According to the Rabbis, there were many commandments which were secondary, and others which were of the first importance. They often put commands, which really were comparatively small, on a par with those which were greatest. One of them even ventured to say that the commands of the Rabbis were more important than the commands of the Law, because the commands of the Law were little and great, but all the commands of the Rabbis were great. Some of them regarded eating with unwashen hands as being as great a crime as murder; and they would classify the rubbing of ears of corn together on the Sabbath-day with adultery; so that they caused great confusion as to the real order of moral precepts. It was, therefore, most desirable to get from this wise Teacher, whom the scribe addressed as “Master ”, an authoritative answer to the question, “Which is the great commandment in the law? “The enquiry was one which would be sure to entangle the Savior if he did not answer it wisely; and therein the lawyer tempted, tested, tried, and proved him.
Blessed be his dear name, he can stand any test to which he may be put!
Satan tempted, tested, and tried him to the uttermost of his power; but even he never found any flaw, or fault, or failing in him.
37, 38. 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. This is the first and great commandment.
These were very familiar words to our Lord’s hearers, for all devout Jews were in the habit of repeating them every morning and evening. Deuteronomy 6:4-9, from which our Savior quoted, was one of the four passages which were worn as “phylacteries” ( 23:5). Jesus, said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. ” Because he is our God, Jehovah claims our heart’s love. As our Creator, Preserver, Provider, and Judge, he commands us to yield to him all our heart’s affection; to love him first, best, heartiest; out of all comparison to the love we have to any fellow-creature, or to ourselves. “And with all thy soul. ” We are to love God with all our life, to love him more than our life; so that, if necessary, we would give up our life rather than give up our love to God. “And with all thy mind. ” We are to love God with our intellect, with all the powers of our mind, bringing memory, thought, imagination, reason, judgment, and all our mental powers, as willing subjects to bow at God’s feet in adoration and love. “This is the first and great commandment. ” It is “first” in point of time, for it was binding upon the angels before man was created; it was binding upon Adam from the hour of his creation in the image of God. It is “first” in importance, for there is no love to a creature worthy of comparison with love to the Creator. This commandment is also “great”, because it comprehends all others, and because its demands are so great, namely, the whole love of our heart, and soul, and mind.
Who can render to God this perfect love? None of our fallen race.
Salvation by the words of the Law is clearly an impossibility, for we cannot obey even the first commandment. There is One who has obeyed it, and the obedience of Christ is reckoned as, the obedience of all who trust him.
Being free from legal condemnation, they seek ever after to obey this “great and first commandment” (R.V.) by the power of the Holy! Spirit, who dwells within them.
39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shall love thy a neighbor as thyself.
The answer is wider than the question. The lawyer asked about “the great commandment”; Christ answered his enquiry, and then added, “and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. ” Who of us has really loved his neighbor as himself? Under the Gospel this commandment is certainly not less binding than under
40. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The teaching of Moses and all the prophets might be summarized in “these two commandments. ” The duty of loving God and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is the supreme subject of the divine revelation. On this, as on a great peg, “hang all the law and the prophets. ” Remove the peg, and what have you left as a support for the teaching given by the Lord through the holy men of old who wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost?
MATTHEW 22:41-46 THE KING ASKING QUESTIONS
41, 42. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. ‘The King now carried the war into the enemy’s country. He had answered all the questions put to him; it was his turn to propound some to those who had come to examine him. While the Pharisees were gathered together, that is, while they still lingered near him, disappointed and defeated, yet watching for any opportunity of assailing him, Jesus asked them, saying, “What think ye of Christ, ” “Our Lord here sets his servants the example of how they should deal with cavilers, quibblers, objectors. Having wisely answered all their questions, he pressed home upon them the question of questions: “What think ye of Christ?” They had tried to puzzle him with their enquiries about Church and State, the future life, and the relative value of the commandments; but he put to them the much more vital question, “What think ye of Christ?”
Jesus also pressed upon his hearers further enquiry about “the Christ” (R.
V.), for the words used evidently mean the Messiah: “Whose son is he? ” They say unto him “The son of David. ” They knew that the promised Deliverer would be descended from David; but they either did not know, or would not confess, that he had a divine as well as a human origin. This the Savior brings out by further questions. 43-45. He saith unto them, How them doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?
These questions of our Lord themselves contain the answers to the present-day critics who deny the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, and the Davidic authorship and Messianic application of certain Psalms. He saith unto them, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord? ” quoting from <19B001> Psalm 110:1, “saying, The LORD said unto My Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool, ” our Savior declared that these were the words of David, speaking “by the Holy Ghost” (see Mark 12:36), concerning the Christ, the Messiah. This ought for ever to settle the question about the inspiration, authorship, and application of that Psalm at least. “TheLORD said unto my Lord,” — Jehovah said unto my Adonai: David, by the Holy Ghost; learned what the Father said unto the Son; and thus he was brought into connection with the whole sacred Trinity. “Sit thou on my right hand”: the Messiah was bidden to rest after his great mediatorial work was accomplished, and to sit on his Father’s right hand, in the place of honor, power, and majesty. “Till I make thine enemies thy footstool”: Jesus is to keep his seat till his foes are all prostrate at his feet.
This was the problem the Pharisees had to solve: if the Messiah was David’s Son, how was it that David, by the Holy Ghost, called him his Lord? The Christ must be something more than mere man; otherwise the Psalmist’s words would have been unsuitable, and even blasphemous. He was higher than the angels, for unto none of them did Jehovah ever stay, “Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” ( Hebrews 1:13).
46. And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. If the Pharisees could have denied that the Psalm had reference to the Messiah , it would have been easy for them to reply to Christ ’s question ; but no man was able to answer him a word. The Rabbis of our Savior ’s day admitted that this was one of the Messianic Psalms , without recognizing what their admission involved ; in later times , as at the present day , false teachers sought to wrest it from its proper meaning .
Christ’s questions silenced his adversaries in a double sense; first, they could not answer him a word; and next, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any He remained Master of the field. They could not entrap or entangle him in his talk; if they would put him to silence, they must do it by putting him to death.