8. THE TWO COMMANDMENTS OF LOVE
Background: The teacher of law in our text had just
heard the debate about the resurrection of the deadhow Jesus made
the Sadducees totally speechless. The question of the greatest
commandment of the law was the hot theological topic of
discussion. For example, the first commandment, the Sabbath
commandment or the commandments to sacrifice were proposed.
28. According to Matthew, this man tried to test Jesus.
- How would our culture answer the question about the most
important commandment or life guidance? (Which one of these do
you think will be the number one: “Live out and satisfy
your dreams and desires!” or “Love your
- Think about the relationship of this teacher to Jesus at that
moment when he came to Jesus.
Verses 29-30. The double commandment of love is not found
in the Old Testament. However, these verses are a direct quote
from the books of Moses (Deut. 6:4-5).
- Usually the teachers of that time responded to controversial
issues by quoting other authorities: Rabbi such and such says so
and so. What do you think of Jesus’ answer based on this
- Why did Jesus quote verse 29, which has no commandment but a
confession of faith and did not go directly to verse 30, which
contains a commandment?
- Why is it not enough to believe in one God, why should we
also love him?
- Think of those four words in verse 30. What does it mean to
love God with all your heart in everyday life? What about with
all your soul? Mind? Strength?
- Do you think you can love God even if you don’t read
the Bible and take part in communion? Give reasons for your view.
- If someone really loves God, how does he think of idolatry,
the use of the name of God, and the Sabbath day, i.e. of the
first three commandments?
- What would your life be like if you could love Jesus in this
- How has this commandment been violated in past and how is it
violated in our time?
Verse 31. In the Old Testament the word
“neighbour” mostly refers to the members of
one’s own people only. Here Jesus is quoting only half of a
verse of the book of Moses: “Do not seek revenge or bear
a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as
yourself.” (Lev. 19:18).
- Why did Jesus leave out the beginning of the sentence in his
- Why doesn’t Jesus say that you should love your
neighbour with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? (What
happens to the person who loves someone like this? What happens
to the person you love in this way?)
- Why the best criterion for loving your neighbour is that you
love him AS YOURSELF?
- What does this command actually oblige us to do?
- What do you think of the claim in our time that a man cannot
love another unless he loves himself?
Let’s reconsider verses 29-31, i.e. the double
commandment of love in its entirety. Note that Jesus does not
claim that to love God is the greatest and to love the neighbour
is the second greatest commandment.
- What would the consequences have been to human life if Jesus
had said that to love God is the greatest commandment?
- If Jesus had said that loving one’s neighbour is the
greatest commandment alone, what consequences would it bring to
our human relations and our relationship with God?
- What should we do if loving God seems to conflict with loving
your neighbour in our lives?
- If the double commandment of love is a condition of accessing
heaven, will you make it?
Verses 32-33. The sacrifices were the foundation of
Jewish worship life. There could be no relationship with God
without sacrifices because reconciliation with God was made by
- What did the scribe suddenly realize while listening to
- Why is love more important than the sacrifice institution?
- How did the scribe’s attitude toward Jesus change?
- Jesus himself would soon die as a sacrificial lamb of God.
What light does this fact bring to this discussion between the
teacher of the law and Jesus?
- What was the teacher of the law still missing so that he
could enter the kingdom of God? (The teacher of the law now
understood the greatest commandment, but what did he yet not
Glad tidings: Jesus loved God above all and you
more than himself. Sacrifice and love were united in him.
He sacrificed himself as a sin offering because we have not loved
God above all things nor loved our neighbour as ourselves. Only
Jesus’ sacrificial love for us can teach us to love God and
our neighbour. We love because he first loved us (1 John