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THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT

Daily Devotional Matthew 22:23–40


When my college students often ask me to name my favorite author, story, or poem, I usually have trouble answering. My mind goes blank, and I can’t think of a single book I’ve ever read—let alone identify the very best one.


Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.

MATTHEW 22:37–38


In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked a far more important, question. This conversation occurred not long after He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, drove the merchants out of the Temple, and healed several people who were blind and lame. “The chief priests and teachers of the law . . . were indignant” (Matt. 21:15), so they challenged Him repeatedly, looking for a reason to arrest Him.


Then the Sadducees took their turn. Although they didn’t believe in the resurrection, they quizzed Jesus on the concept. They created a hypothetical puzzle in which a widow married seven brothers one by one, and then asked Jesus to crack this code: “At the resurrection, whose wife will she be?” (v. 28). They expected Him to be theologically stumped.


Of course, He wasn’t. But rather than dignify their question with a response, He turned the tables back on them, pointing out errors in their understanding. The Sadducees retreated. Then one bold Pharisee stepped up with another test. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (v. 36). In response, Jesus quoted the Shema: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’...And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (vv. 37–38).


These two commands encapsulate the entire covenant made between God and His people in Deuteronomy. “Heart,” “soul,” and “mind” aren’t meant as separate categories: We are to love and obey God with our entire being.


Go Deeper


What does it mean to love God with your heart, soul, and mind? Why did Jesus say this was the greatest commandment?


Pray with Us:


Lord Jesus, thank you that, as Your followers, we “are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). You drew us to Yourself, You loved us first, and this love gives us strength to fulfill Your greatest commandment!

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