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What Is The Greatest Commandment covers how Jesus uses a trick by the religious leaders to force them...and us to choose who we will serve. 

What Is The Greatest Commandment

Harmony Of The Gospels Series-35,Mt 22:34-23:39 (read this before continuing)

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We've been studying the last week before Jesus was crucified, but wouldn't stay dead. Last lesson we saw Jesus announce Himself as King, proclaim the demise of religion in Israel and strike a blow right at the heart of the religious leaders…their money. If you missed it, go to What Is The Meaning Of Palm Sunday. Just as His life did, these teachings will become more dramatic as we get closer to the climax, Easter. Don't miss the next four weeks…they're guaranteed to be intense. This week, Jesus intensifies the conflict, knowing the religious leaders are plotting to kill Him, He continues to challenge them to act. As we know…they did, but not before He had made it clear to everyone that they must make a choice. That's the challenge that comes to us down through the ages, because the choice He gave them is our choice, today.

We must decide who we will serve.

Nobody likes to make decisions. Because of that, people who are good at making decisions can make millions of dollars a year. Often, we'll pay people to make bad decisions rather than have to decide for ourselves…ask the politicians. Good salespeople make lots of money, largely because they get good at helping people make a decision. We hate deciding! Do you know which State in the United States has the most people? It's the State of Indecision. About 75% of our population live in this sad and painful state most of their lives, and we all take frequent visits. Why? Maybe it's the fear we'll make a bad decision and cause ourselves undue harm. Maybe it's that, by deciding, we have to embrace one thing and let everything else go. By choosing this lesson, you decided against everything else you could have done with this time. Ooops! Just lost a few! When it comes to serving Him or something else, God will not allow us to sit on the fence. Time after time the Bible shows us being placed in ever more pressing situations until, finally, we can do nothing but move one way or the other. Eat the forbidden fruit, or don't; Listen to Noah, or laugh; Enter Canaan, or not. The episode we're studying is no different. Everyone in Jerusalem was faced with a decision they could no longer ignore.

1. Challenge: This time, the challenge was different. The religious leaders had been challenging Jesus and trying to trap Him for about 3 years. Every time, He eluded them, sometimes issuing a painful retort for them to dwell on during their journey back to Jerusalem. He went about His business in the countryside, healing, loving and teaching. What was different about the challenge this time? He was doing it in the heart of Jerusalem at the height of their greatest religious festival. When someone gets naked and dances in the street, you can ignore him. When he does the same thing in your living room, you're forced to deal with it. "Hoosiers" This challenge from Jesus was something the religious leaders were forced to deal with. They could no longer live in indecision. They thought they were challenging Him with the question concerning the greatest commandment, but He answered correctly, then used the occasion to launch His agenda for the day. Again, the challenger was challenged and the hunter was caught in his own trap.

Jesus told them the whole Law of God was summed up in the word Love; love for God and love for His people. With one question, He proved to them He is God in the flesh, something they refused to acknowledge to the point of conspiring against Him. But, He didn't stop there. He went on to tell the crowds of people that their leaders were hypocrites who didn't follow the commandment of Love at all. He told them not to follow the religious leaders nor to even give them a title of honor. He said no one but God deserves the honor of being called Master, Father, or Teacher…That a true follower of God is a servant. Jesus still wasn't finished! He pronounced woes on the religious leaders, very much like the Prophet Jeremiah did on Jerusalem's evil residents, around 500 years before. He called the religious leaders a brood of poisonous snakes, and said, to seal their fate, He would send prophets for them to kill and flog and hunt down. We know now, Jesus was talking about sending the early Christians. Jesus ends with a lament over what might have been the relationship between Jerusalem and God, and with a promise of desolation for Jerusalem. The challenge could not have been clearer. Everyone was forced to deal with it. They could continue to follow their traditions and religious leaders and abandon Love, or they could embrace love and abandon religion. On this issue, at-the-end-of-the-day no one would be allowed to live in indecision. Since we have the luxury of hindsight, let's take a look at the two sides of this issue.

Continued at What Is the Greatest Commandment-2

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