At first it seems as though there are very few surprises for us in our gospel today.
The scene is familiar to us: the Pharisees and Sadducees are stirring up trouble with Jesus, as usual, and Jesus masterfully handles them with a mixture of kindness, authority, and flawless command of the scriptures.
And, of course, Jesus’ answer to their question, what is the greatest commandment, is very familiar to us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
It’s hard to preach on this passage, because essentially, Jesus has wrapped up the substance and goals of our entire Christian life in a few short sentences.
Love God and love your neighbor. That pretty much covers it.
Simple, straightforward, easy to remember, and the work of a lifetime.
But the wonderful thing about Jesus is that every word he speaks is so rich with multilayered meaning that we can mine it for years and be struck by new revelation every time we open the gospel.
What intrigues me, as I study these familiar words this time around, is his final sentence: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Continue reading