Granddaddy of All Commandments

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40

It’s like these religious leaders have a ‘Kick Me’ sign printed on the backs of their clothes. They just can’t let it go. They were obsessed with “getting Jesus.”

A number of years ago my wife and I were on a medical missions trip to South Sudan. We happened to be traveling with a CBN reporter, Gary, who also happened to be Pat Robertson’s campaign manager when Pat ran for President in the 1980s. Gary was sitting on the press bus when Andrea Mitchell, not knowing Gary was on the bus, got on the bus and exclaimed, “We really nailed him today [meaning Robertson]!”

Oops.

I get the sense that these religious leaders were trying to “nail” Jesus any chance they got. As I’ve stated multiple times, this was the Son of God. He knew their ways and tricks and how to defend himself. And they had the audacity of asking the Word of God about the Law that He wrote! That’s too funny.

Jesus’ teaching is instructive. Apparently there is a hierarchy of commandments. Plus, these two commandments were the granddaddy of them all.

It would appear that if we hid these words in our hearts, that would be a wonderful thing.

Write them down.
Memorize them.
Think about them.
Let them roll around in your head and let it sink down into your heart.
Go to sleep with them on your heart.

Then, the next day, do it all over again until they are burned into our spirits.

The truly difficult part, however, will be to live them out each day. Hiding them is a great first step though.

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Thinking About the Risen Life

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching. Matthew 22:23-33

I’ve always been puzzled about this passage myself.

BibleHub discusses this passage a bit, and it’s but one man’s opinion since the Bible does not address the topic at length:

The risen life is no mere reproduction of the present, but a regeneration, new life added to the old, with new powers, acting under new laws, ranged in a new community. On earth men are mortal, and marriage is necessary to perpetuate the race; no such necessity obtains in the other life, where men are immortal…Thus Christ, in opposition to the Saddueces’ creed, admits the existence of angels. Glorified men are like the angels in these characteristics especially. They are immortal, no longer subject to human wants, passions, failings, or temptations; they serve God perfectly without weariness or distraction; they have no conflict between flesh and spirit, between the old nature and the new; their life is peaceful, harmonious, satisfying.

We can still be in awe of the risen life. In fact, we should be.

As the Bible says, we see but a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV). We’re only seeing through a fog, the fog of sin and corruption and what we know to be true here on earth. We’re very limited in what we can see.

Sometimes we are treated to gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, mountain vistas, and awe-inspiring star-lit nights.

What God has prepared for His children will be significantly better than even the best natural views here. We won’t be bored, frustrated, lonely, or in pain there.

Relationships will be different and more fulfilling there. Our old nature with its greed and bitterness and strife will be past tense.

Until then, we slog away day after day wanting and hoping to make a difference in someone else’s life.

And that’s a good thing.

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Amazed, But Changed?

16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. Matthew 22:16-22

The teachers of the law tried to “razzle-dazzle” Jesus with pious sounding talk. Once again, he peered right through them. They weren’t interested in the truth at all. They were only interested in trapping him in something he would say. Then they would pat themselves on the back for doing what they thought was right.

The Bible tells us that the leaders went away amazed by what Jesus taught them. They went away amazed but where they changed as a result? We can’t know for sure about all of them but it’s safe to say that most were opposed to Him right up through His crucifixion. We don’t know about the months and years after His ascension.

But they went away amazed.

We do that too, don’t we? We hear a sound Biblical teaching and walk away “pumped up” or encouraged or sometimes even troubled. Does it spur us on to action? Does it have to?

Not really. As I mentioned a few days ago, the Bible and Bible teacherscorrect, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). That instruction goes deep within and feeds our spirits.

The teachers of the law, of course, did not have the Spirit of God within them but when the living Word of God is speaking to you as a non-believer, you will have to take time to process it.

So, it’s safe to say that what Jesus told them remained with them for a long time.

The Bible is a powerful book, something that cannot be overemphasized. It has a transforming effect on the believer and non-believer. We just have to trust that when we’ve done our job of spreading seeds, that the Holy Spirit will germinate and grow them.

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There They Go Again…

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. Matthew 22:15

There they go again!

Perhaps these were different Pharisees from the seven or eight previous times they sought to trap Him.

Perhaps they didn’t know any better.

Perhaps they were just not that smart.

Back in the day was a commercial with the tagline: “It’s not nice to fool ‘mother nature!'”

Jesus saw right through these leaders. I suspect there was a different spirit about them, something that made them stand apart from those who were true truth seekers.

If it wasn’t nice to fool mother nature, then it certainly won’t be pretty to try to fool the Son of God!

He was ruthless with the dishonest and arrogant leaders, but tender and compassionate with every day folks who needed His help.

Today, leaders who need His help need only to ask. He will be compassionate towards them if they do that.

I believe the Church is being shaken up today, as is much of the political landscape.

Covid and the constant hype surrounding it has done a number on the economy, education system, commerce, and religious life.

People are looking for answers. They continue to search for the truth, not regarding the virus necessarily but the truth about life in general.

This is a time we all should do some soul-searching about what He wants us to do.

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.

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The Most Important Question You’ll Ever Answer

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14

The best, most concise treatment of this parable was from stackexchange

The symbolism in Matthew 22:11-13 of the one who was not clothed with the proper wedding garments is of one who is not clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

We have to be in Christ (Romans 8:1l 12:5), covered by His blood (Romans 4:7; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; Hebrews 13:12).

Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (KJV)

The man in the parable of the wedding feast was not clothed in Christ. It means that those who are not clothed with Christ are not in Christ, and will be judged unworthy just as the man was in the parable of the wedding feast, and will be cast out into eternal punishment, and experience the second death.

Probably the most important question I’ll ever ask is this, “Have you been clothed in Christ?” or better stated in John 3: “Have you been born again?”

Have you ever had a time in your life that you realized your utter sinfulness and needed a Savior?

We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Unfortunately, the end result is not pretty.

For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23a)

But there’s good news.

“…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b)

Our response:

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

These are eternal questions that deserve serious consideration.

If you’re reading this and are curious about these words, write me. Ask me questions.

It’s the most important question you’ll ever answer.

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