Christ’s enemies would make one more attempt to trip Him up before giving up the more subtle and less violent means as hopeless.  A doctor of the law tempted Him by asking the thorny question, “Which is the great commandment in the law?”  This was a case of much dispute among the rabbis, so they probably hoped to alienate Him at least from some segment of the population by whatever answer He gave.

To this question, the Lord returns a direct answer.  The great commandment of the law is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind.  He who can do this will surely fulfill every other commandment contained in the law; for, as John says, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (I John 5:3).  Love to God is the consummate duty of man, and it is the duty enjoined upon us by the first table of the law.

The second great commandment follows right behind it, and that is the law to love our neighbors as ourselves.  This duty encompasses the second table of the law, commandments 5 through 10 of the Decalogue.  Love to God and love towards our fellow men, which requires that we always do right towards both regardless of personal comfort, is the very essence of Bible doctrine.  The whole law and prophets hang upon those commands.  They are, we might say, the nutshell version of the whole body of Scripture truth regarding the duties of man.  Considered honestly, these commands will reveal to us how far short we fall of the glory of God, and how greatly we stand in need of a redeemer who will bear the curse of the law on our behalf, and give us a righteous standing before the holy throne of the Almighty.

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