Matthew 22:34-46 (NRSV)
Verse 34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, Verse 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. Verse 36"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" Verse 37He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' Verse 38This is the greatest and first commandment. Verse 39And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Verse 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Verse 41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: Verse 42"What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." Verse 43He said to them, "How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, Verse 44'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet"'? Verse 45If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" Verse 46No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
In context, the lawyer’s innocent sounding inquiry about the commandments looks like another “gotcha!” question like the two Jesus had already rebuffed earlier in this chapter. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus cited Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Loving God with all one’s resources—including, Jesus adds, the mind—cannot be severed from loving treatment of one’s neighbor. Together, the twin commandments summon us to reconsider virtually everything in our lives in the light of love of God and neighbor: the human costs of our consumerism, care of the earth, humane treatment of people in the courts or on our borders, public policy on food assistance, healthcare, and poverty, and more.
If the Pharisaic lawyer had a response to Jesus’ claim, it is not recorded. That’s understandable. Jesus’ instruction on how he or we are to live before God undercuts every dodge and excuse not to obey.
Lord, shape my mind and heart so that my love for you and for my neighbor might grow. In Jesus name. Amen.