Sermon title: 

THE SON OF DAVID TEACHES US TO LOVE GOD AND NEIGHBOR

  

 

Matthew 22:34-46

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, September 15, 2019

 

 

Over the past couple of weeks

we’ve seen how the various leadership factions in Jerusalem

got together in attempts

to trap our Lord Jesus in his words

in Matthew, Chapter 22.

 

First the Pharisees got together with the Herodians

and tried to trap him

by asking if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar.

 

Instead of the “YES” or “NO” answers

that would have gotten him into trouble

with the Roman authorities, or with the patriotic Jews,

he showed them Caesar’s image on the tax coin,

and told them to

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's,

and to God what is God's."

 

Then the Sadducees,

who didn’t believe in a resurrection for the dead,

asked him a trick question

designed to make belief in the resurrection

look ridiculous.

 

But our Lord shot them down, too,

with an answer they weren’t expecting.

 

And that brings us up to Matthew 22, Verse 34,

where the Pharisees now decide

to take another stab at

stumping Jesus with their questions.

 

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."

 

So, the Pharisee asked Jesus,

 

36 "Teacher,

which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

 

The “Law” he referred to was the Law of Moses.

 

It included the Ten Commandments

and all of the other laws

that God gave to the new nation of Israel,

as God spoke to them through Moses.

 

Almost 2000 years before Christ

God first spoke to Abraham’s grandson Jacob

and changed Jacob’s name to “Israel.”

 

Jacob’s son Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers,

and spent the rest of his life in Egypt,

where he miraculously became

Pharaoh’s powerful prime minister.

 

When that part of the world suffered drought and famine,

Joseph brought his brothers

and his father Jacob—the whole family of Israel—

into Egypt, to feed them from Pharaoh’s storehouses.

 

There were then just 60-odd people

in that family of Israel,

who took shelter in Egypt.

 

But they bore many children,

and after many generations,

the offspring of Israel grew to tens of thousands,

and the Egyptians forced them into slavery

to keep them under control.

 

By the time God sent Moses

to lead the Israelites out of slavery

and bring them into the Promised Land,

they numbered in the hundreds of thousands

and formed a small nation.

 

Freed from slavery

and migrating into a new land of their own

this new nation needed laws to govern them.

 

And God gave those laws to them through Moses—

starting with the Ten Commandments.

 

Altogether, the books of Moses—

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—

include over 600 laws

given by God

to govern the nation of Israel.

 

And it was that set of 600-plus laws

that this Pharisee referred to

when he asked Jesus,

 

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.

 

Our Lord quoted that

from Deuteronomy 6:5.

 

Mark’s Gospel, at Mark 12:30,

includes additional words Jesus spoke:

 

Love the Lord your God

with all your heart

and with all your soul

and with all your mind

and

with all your strength.'

 

with all your heartmeans complete devotion to God

in our emotionsnot half-hearted love.

 

with all your mind” means our thoughts—

that nothing should be allowed

to overshadow or compete with God

in our thoughts.

 

with all your soul” means

we are to love God with every aspect of our very being.

 

with all your strengthimplies actions on our part.

 

Our heart, mind and soul are inward,

but when we use our strength,

we are doing things:

standing up,

moving our feet,

raising our voice,

using our hands, arms and body to do things.

-----------------------------------------

 

We don’t have to wonder or speculate about

what it means to “love God,”

because the Bible tells us.

 

1 John 5:3 says,

 

“Loving God means keeping his commandments

 

Let me repeat that:

 

1 John 5:3 says,

 

“Loving God means keeping his commandments

 

So, having good feelings about God

while disobeying his commands

does not constitute loving God,

no matter how lovey-dovey our feelings may be.

 

Saying or singing, “We love you, Lord!”

while disobeying his commandments

does not constitute loving God,

according to the inspired definition:

 

By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,

1 John 5:3 gives us God’s definition

of what it means to love God,

and it says,

“Loving God means keeping his commandments”

 

Another translation puts it this way:

 

“To love God means that we obey his commandments”

 

And our Lord Jesus himself said the same thing

in the Gospel of John, Chapter 14.

 

He explains there, again, at John 14:15

what it means to love him.

 

And, according to what Jesus says here,

someone who says they love God,

but chooses to live in sin

and to persist in disobedience—

they don’t really love God,

despite what they say.

 

At John 14, Verse 15, Jesus said,

 

15 “If you love me,

you will obey my commandments.

 

And then at Verse 21, Jesus adds,

 

21 “Those who accept my commandments and obey

them are the ones who love me.”

 

He doesn’t say

those who loudly proclaim that they love me

are the ones who love me.

 

No, he says,

 

21 “Those who accept my commandments and obey

them are the ones who love me.”

 

So, if there are young people in the church

who are living together

or sleeping together outside of marriage,

it doesn’t count

that they wear crosses around their necks

or have “Jesus” tattooed on their arms

or sing Christian music.

 

It they refuse to accept Jesus’ commandments

and refuse to obey him,

they don’t love him.

 

Christ says,

 

21 “Those who accept my commandments and obey

them are the ones who love me.”

 

----------------------------------------

 

But, it could also be the case

that young people sleeping together outside of marriage

may not have heard

that this is a serious sin.

 

The church they attend

may not have told them

that sex outside of marriage is a sin against God.

 

There are churches today

that preach nothing but love.

 

They avoid preaching the rest of the Bible,

because some of the other things in the Bible

might offend someone.

 

Especially the parts of the Bible

where Jesus says to “Stop sinning”

and to “Repent” of our sins.

 

Those parts might offend someone.

 

So, those churches avoid preaching the parts of the Bible

where Jesus and his Apostles actually name

some of the sins that need to be stopped and repented of.

 

They either avoid

or find some way to dismiss

what the Apostle Paul wrote at 1 Corinthians 6:9.

 

Paul gave the examples there

of disobeying God’s commands.

 

Paul wrote,

 

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous

will not inherit the kingdom of God?

 

Do not be deceived.

 

Neither fornicators, (that means couples who have sex outside of marriage)

 

nor idolaters, nor adulterers,

 

nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,

 

nor thieves, nor covetous,

 

nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners

 

will inherit the kingdom of God.

 

We all did those things,

or other wicked things like them,

before we came to Christ.

 

But now we have repented.

 

We have left that sort of conduct behind.

 

And we have been washed clean by the blood of Christ.

 

But those who refuse to repent of their sins

and, instead, persist in the wicked behavior Paul listed

will not inherit the kingdom.

 

They don’t love God.

 

Jesus says,

 

21 “Those who accept my commandments and obey

them are the ones who love me.”

 

---------------------------------------------

 

But now, let’s go back to our Lord’s response

to the question that Pharisee asked

about which is the greatest commandment in the Law.

 

After he told him that the greatest commandment

is to love God,

then Jesus added,

 

39 And the second is like it:

 

'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

 

Our Lord quoted this from Leviticus 19:18.

And then Jesus said something very interesting.

 

He said,

 

40 All the Law and the Prophets

hang on these two commandments."

 

How could that be?

 

How could all the rest of the Law

and all the rest that God commanded through his prophets—

how could all of that

hang on these two commandments”—

to love God and love your neighbor?

 

In Romans, Chapter 13, the Apostle Paul explains

what Jesus meant here.

 

Paul explains that loving our neighbor

will keep us from doing

unloving things to our neighbor.

 

We wouldn’t do these hurtful things to ourselves,

and if we ‘love our neighbor as we love our self,’

we won’t do hurtful things to them, either.

 

Beginning at Romans 13:8, Paul writes

 

whoever loves others

has fulfilled the law.

 

9 The commandments,

 

“You shall not commit adultery,”

“You shall not murder,”

“You shall not steal,”

“You shall not covet,”

 

and whatever other command there may be,

are summed up in this one command:

 

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

10 Love does no harm to a neighbor.

 

Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

 

So, if that’s the case—

if all we need to guide us

is to “Love your neighbor as yourself”—

then why does God fill the Bible

with commands not to do THIS

and not to do THAT

and not to do THE OTHER THING?

 

Why doesn’t he just say,

“Love your neighbor as yourself”

and leave it at that?

 

The reason is because of our sinful hearts.

 

It’s so easy for our sinful hearts to reason,

“My neighbor Jerry is rich

and has lots money.

He won’t even miss it, if I help myself to some of it.”

 

It’s so easy for our sinful hearts to reason,

“I’m going to marry my girlfriend eventually, someday,

so I might as well sleep with her right now.”

 

It’s so easy for our sinful hearts to reason,

“If I break her heart

by leaving her someday,

she’ll get over it.”

 

It’s so easy for our sinful hearts to reason,

“If I leave her with children to raise on her own,

she’ll find the help she needs somewhere else.”

 

At 1 Timothy 1:9, Paul explains

why God had to make laws against all these sins.

 

He explains that “Love your neighbor as yourself”

is sufficient to guide us

if we are righteous, godly people,

who love God

and truly want the best for others.

 

But our sinful hearts use twisted logic

to justify all sorts of sins

as if they won’t offend God

and won’t harm the person we’re sinning against.

 

There at 1 Timothy 1:9 he writes,

 

We also know that the law is made

not for the righteous

 

but for lawbreakers and rebels,

the ungodly and sinful,

the unholy and irreligious,

for those who kill their fathers or mothers,

for murderers,

for the sexually immoral,

for those practicing homosexuality,

for slave traders and liars and perjurers.”

So, through Paul’s letter,

God explains to us why he had to spell out

all these DO’s and DON’Ts in the Bible.

 

These laws are not made for the righteous

whose love for God and neighbor

would keep them from doing these things.

 

These laws are made

for unrighteous, sinful hearts

that come up with ways

to feel good about doing bad things.

 

Jeremiah 17:9, in the New Living Translation, says,

 

“The human heart

is the most deceitful of all things,

and desperately wicked.

 

Who really knows how bad it is?”

 

The Lord Jesus knows our hearts,

and he calls us anyway,

to repent of our sins

and follow him

and learn his ways.

 

When he first calls us,

we don’t love God

with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength,

and we don’t love our neighbor as ourselves.

 

But at Matthew 11:29 he says,

 

Take my yoke upon you

and learn from me,

for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

 

If we look at ourselves in the light of God’s Word

and we find ourselves lacking,

that’s all the more reason

to fall on our knees before Christ

and humbly confess to him.

-------------------------------

 

The Pharisees were put to shame and silenced

by the things Jesus said to them.

 

But he didn’t just let them go.

 

Matthew 22:41 goes on to say,

 

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together,

Jesus asked them,

 

42 "What do you think about the Christ ?

Whose son is he?"

 

"The son of David," they replied.

 

43 He said to them,

"How is it then that David,

speaking by the Spirit,

calls him 'Lord'?

 

For he says,

44 " 'The Lord said to my Lord:

"Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies under your feet." '

 

45 If then David calls him 'Lord,'

how can he be his son?"

 

The Pharisees understood from the Old Testament Scriptures

that God was going to send them a Messiah.

 

The Hebrew-rooted word “Messiah”

and the Greek-rooted word “Christ”

both mean simply “an anointed one.”

 

David was anointed king

when God’s prophet poured oil on his head

to anoint him in the name of God.

 

So, the Pharisees expected the future Messiah

would be just another anointed king—

a man God would raise up

to liberate them from the Roman occupation

and restore the Kingdom of Israel.

 

They expected this anointed king

to be a son or descendent of David,

as prophesied in the Scriptures.

 

But they didn’t grasp the other prophecies in Scripture

that showed the Messiah

would be the divine Son of God.

 

The Pharisees didn’t grasp

that the coming king

would rule from a throne in heaven

and would conquer all the enemies of God

in heaven and earth.

 

Such a divine, heavenly king

would be, not only David’s son or descendent,

but also David’s “lord.”

 

Jesus quoted to them Psalm 110:1,

which was written by King David,

where David said,

 

44 "'The Lord said to my Lord:

"Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies under your feet."'

 

David was inspired to write

that the Lord God said to the Lord Christ,

 

"Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies under your feet."'

 

And Christ is described repeatedly in the New Testament

as seated at the right hand of God in heaven.

 

And the most amazing thing about it

is that he extends a similar promise to us

to sit on his throne with him.

 

At Revelation 3:21 the risen Christ says,

 

To the one who is victorious,

I will grant the right

to sit with Me on My throne,

just as I overcame

and sat down with My Father on His throne.

---------------------------------

 

So, our Lord Jesus didn’t fall into any of the traps

that his enemies laid for him

through their trick questions.

 

Matthew 22:46 concludes that section

by telling us,

 

46 No one could say a word in reply,

and from that day

on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

 

His enemies—

the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Herodians—

were all put to shame by Jesus’ answers.

 

Hebrews 10:12 tells us

that the rest of his enemies will also be subdued.

 

It says that, even now,

 

“Christ” sits “at the right hand of God”

where “He waits for His enemies

to be made a footstool for His feet.”

 

And we have the amazing hope

of sitting on his heavenly throne with him,

sharing in his victory over this wicked world.