This passage is about aligning ourselves up to what is important, our relationship to God, our relationship to others and to self and our purpose for His Glory. Thus, what does God want us to do with our stewardship of faith and purpose of life?
The context is that the Sadducees and Pharisees were not concerned with truth; they only wanted to argue and attack Jesus. This is nothing new as people like to argue, just for the sake of an argument and not for finding true Truth and real effectual meaning. By the way this is reprehensible before God, as you will see in the next chapter, Matthew 23! They are only capable of causing division, hypocrisy, and strife. God desires humility and for the fruit of His Spirit to empower us (Gal. 5:22-23; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:3-8)! When we are too full of ourselves, there is no room for God to be at work in us (Rom. 7:4-6; Gal. 5:19-21)! The Sadducees and Pharisees were experts in ignoring God’s purpose for them; therefore, they spent their time attacking those who were centered on God. Jesus was their main target.
- God…of the living means, God is the God of those who exist. God of the dead means, lording over those who do not exist. Thus, if the people who have passed on are still in existence, then there is a resurrection. The Patriarchs are in eternal relationship with God, so they are living—not dead. Dead refers to nonexistence.
- Silenced. Pleased that Jesus silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees sought to get Jesus with their well-crafted, non-winnable arguments.
- Which is the greatest…? Jewish rabbis counted 613 to 619 individual laws in the Law, and endeavored to distinguish between “great” and “light” commands. (Since they did not disciple people, serve the needy, or serve the Lord, I guess they had nothing better to do!)
- Love. The Greek verb is agapao, not phileo! Phileo means, brotherly love, as in friendly affection; but, agapao means a deep commitment and devotion that comes from our willingness and our realization that it is a duty (1 Cor. 13). It is also a response of our gratitude for the love God gave us (1 John 4:19-21)!
- Heart, soul, mind are the imperative commands that form the heart of the Law (Lev. 19:18; Duet. 6:5). The purpose is to encompass; we are to love with all we are—our entire personhood. It is not just a part, or an aspect—it is all.
- Some translations have might, which means mind. Mark 12:30 adds your strength. The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the O.T.) adds “mind.” Jesus combined the Greek and Hebrew meanings to refer to the entire person—his thoughts, behaviors, and goals.
- This passage in Deuteronomy is called the “Shema;” Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deut. 6:4). This is the Jewish “confession of faith,” and sets the theme for verse five. This passage was memorized and recited frequently at worship services. And the second. Jewish teachers often combined various commands, summarizing them into one. Jewish teachers often taught that love is paramount and covers all we are and all that we should do in life, in service to God and others. Love is who we are and who we are to be. Because God loves us, we should have the motivation to love others (Rom. 8:1-4; 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4)!
- The Law and the Prophets. Together, Law and Prophets refer to the entire O.T., including the writings. Law refers to the first five books of the Bible, Prophets referred to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (the Major Prophets), as well as the twelve Minor Prophets—Jonah, Daniel, etc. This was said to make the point that all of the testimony given to us is from God! Jesus’ point is that He fulfills the Law and the Prophets; He does not dissolve them, but makes them deeper, and takes our place in obeying them (Ex. 20:1; Matt. 5:17).
This is “stewardship prime,” Who is your Lord (Psalm 110)? If Jesus is your Lord, questions do not pose a problem! Your life will be centered on Him, be filled with purpose and meaning, and will benefit all those around you! When we grasp the real Truth, our private faith will become more real and more impacting; then, our public activities will be a blessing to others (Rom. 13; Phil. 2:1-11; Col. 2:2-3). When we love God, we will love our neighbor. If we do not love others, it is highly likely that God is just a convenience, and our love for Him is not sincere! Our “truth” is made up, or misdirected; it is not real Truth! And this will be the baseline on how we see and uses and then grow in the stewardship prime of our faith and live!