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The Four-fold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey

CIX. Jewish Rulers Seek to Ensnare Jesus.

(Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d.30.)

Subdivision C. A Lawyer Asks About the Great Commandment.

^A Matt. XXII.34-40; ^B Mark XII.28-34; ^C Luke XX.40.

^a 34 But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, gathered themselves together.35 And one of them, a lawyer, ^b one of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, ^a asked him a question, trying him [he was evidently deputed by those who counseled to ask this question]: 36 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? ^b What commandment is the first of all? [According to the statement of Jewish writers, there had been an old and interminable dispute among the rabbis as to which was the greatest commandment. Some held that it was the law which commanded sacrifices; others, that which commanded the wearing of phylacteries; others contended for those about purification; others, for those about the great feasts. But as they reckoned the commandments of Moses as numbering over six hundred, there was plenty of room for argument. On this memorable day the answers of Jesus had hitherto been of such a nature as to put his questioners to silence. Therefore, in asking this question, they hoped to get an answer about which they could at least find room to wrangle, and thus discredit the wisdom of Jesus.] 29 Jesus answered, ^a 37 And said unto him, ^b The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30 And ^a Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. ^b and with all thy strength. ^a 38 This is the great and first commandment. [Deut. vi.4-9. This command is first because it is the foundation of the entire law of God. It is greatest, because, in a sense, it includes all the other laws. Polytheism, atheism, idolatry, and all sins against God are forbidden by it. All sins against man are likewise, in a sense, prohibited by it; for sin against man is sin against God's image, and against the objects of God's love. Those who truly love God can not consistently sin against man (I. John iv.20). The curious may make metaphysical distinctions in the analysis of this required fourfold love, but the sum of it is that we are to love God with our whole being.] 39 And a { ^b 31 The} second ^a like unto it ^b is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. [Love is the cure for sin, for we can not sin against those whom we truly love. Where we love, we desire to bless. But sin always carries with it a willingness to injure or to curse.] There is none other commandment greater than these. ^a 40 On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets. [The generic nature of the law of love is also noted by Paul (Rom. xiii.8-10); but love without law is not sufficient. Love begets a desire to bless, but the law guides to the accomplishment of that desire. Perfect righteousness is the result of wisdom as well as affection. Love without law is power without direction, and law without love is machinery without a motor -- I. Cor. xiii.1-3.] ^b 32 And the scribe said unto him, Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one; and there is none other but he: 33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is much more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. [Here, as in the preceding subdivision, the answer of Jesus was so clearly right that it enforced admiration.] 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. [Prejudice is the great obstacle to entering the kingdom. In proportion as we overcome it we draw near to God.] And no man after that durst { ^c 40 For they durst not any more} ask him any question. [They found it expedient to keep silence when their questions only exposed their own shallowness, and made more conspicuous the supreme wisdom of Jesus.]

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