Stephen Davey

In the book of Matthew, Matthew 22, the Pharisees came to trap Jesus. They tried to do it by asking him, in verse 36,

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?

Now, you need to understand that this was a really loaded question.

Over the years, the rabbis had supposedly determined that, just as there were 613 separate letters in the Hebrew text of the Ten Commandments, so also were there 613 separate laws in the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses.

The rabbis had then divided those 613 laws into affirmative and negative groups. They held that there were 247 affirmative laws, one for every part of the human body, as they knew it, and 365 negative laws, one for each day of the year.

Furthermore, the laws were also divided into heavy and light. The heavy ones were absolutely binding and the light ones were less binding. They had never been unanimous as to which laws were heavy and which were light, so the rabbis and scribes spent countless hours proudly debating the merits of their particular divisions and the ranking of laws within the division.

So, they come to Jesus and ask Him, “Which one law is the ultimate, greatest law or commandment?”

Notice Jesus’ answer in verses 37 through 39.

And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The interesting thing is that, after he gave that answer, the Pharisee who asked said, “You’re right,” and no debate followed!

Taken from "Reborn - The Demonstration" by Wisdom for the Heart Ministries (used by permission).