The Greatest Commandment

Very early in the ministry of Jesus, Israel’s religious and political leaders began to plot His death (Mat 12:14). But His popularity among the people prohibited them from arresting Him. In order to diminish His popularity, they asked Him questions hoping to entrap Him. Even in the last week leading up to His death and resurrection, the leaders of Israel were still trying to discredit Him using trick questions (Mat 22:15-46).
After the Herodians and the Sadducees failed in their attempts, the Pharisees took their shot (22:34-40). One of them, an expert in the law, asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” This question was fraught with peril in that Jesus was being asked to rank God’s commands in terms of their importance. All of God’s commandments are important and so to single out one as the greatest would surely expose Jesus to criticism. They thought they had Him! But again, the One in Whom dwells all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge gave an answer that silenced His critics (see Mark 12:34). Jesus first indicated the two greatest commandments, “Love God, and love people.” Jesus then stated that everything in the law and in the prophets depended on these two commandments. By answering this way, Jesus made it clear that every commandment found in the law and prophets was important and must be obeyed. Jesus denoted the two greatest commandments without minimizing the others!