Jesus had a way of having the last word. A good example is when the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus the woman “taken in adultery.” After He said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7), all the woman’s accusers left. There was nothing more to say, no more argument to hold. The truth of Christ’s words was enough to end the conversation.
There had been a long ongoing attempt by the religious leaders of the day to discredit Jesus. They accused Him of working with Satan (Matthew 12:24). On another occasion, Jesus gave sight to a man, and they cursed him for doing work on the Sabbath day. The list goes on, but everything Christ did came with accusations of evil by His enemies. The scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees were relentless in their pursuit of dirt on the Son of God because He was eating into their popularity and power.
The Pharisees’ last attempt to silence Jesus by nonviolent means comes as soon as they realized He had silenced the Sadducees. Again, He has the last word, but He also gives the secret of making life decisions — both short and long term.
After three years of trying to entangle Jesus in His words, the Pharisees decide to send someone to Jesus that is an expert at twisting words — a lawyer. The goal here is to get Jesus confused, force Him into a corner, or entangle Him in His words. They want to get Him to either contradict Himself, say something against the law, or give Him an unanswerable question. The purpose of this is to make Him look bad to the people, someone who is unworthy of their worship and devotion.
The conversation lasts for one question, and one answer — when this failed, the Pharisees start the plot of Christ’s execution.
The attorney asks, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” There is little doubt that this was a leading question, but because of the Savior’s wisdom, the lawyer will have nowhere else to go.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
There is no reason to discuss the law any further. All the law hangs on loving God and loving your neighbor.
For us today, Jesus has just established our decision-making process. Does what we want to do show love to God? Does it show love to those around us? If the answer is “yes,” proceed. If the answer is “no,” — do not move forward. As with all decisions, there are many small factors to consider, but here are our general guidelines.
As Jesus said, our love for God needs “all thy heart…all thy soul, and…all thy mind.”
The heart is the seat of our emotions. We choose our emotions. If you had ever taken a minute alone before you confronted someone about something they did, you understand this concept. You are angry; you believe your anger may cause you to say or do something you will regret later. Therefore, you step aside for a minute and allow the mood to dissipate for a minute. You decided to get the emotion of anger under control before proceeding with the situation. When we love God with all our hearts, we allow Him to take control of our emotions.
The soul is our personality. What makes us who we are. With work, our soul can change. Someone greedy, through the work of the Holy Spirit, can become benevolent. When we love God, we give Him our soul. Through the process of time, He will work within us to make us more like Him. As He is the potter and we are the clay, He molds us (our soul) to be more like Him. But we must give Him our soul, and we will not do this unless we love Him with our soul.
Our mind is how we think. How we think is the basis of our decision-making process. When we love God with our mind, our mind will concentrate on things pleasing to God; see Phillipians 4:8.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves is another phrasing for the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12).
How much do you love God? Does He control your emotions? Do you allow Him to mold your personality into His likeness? Do you consider your thoughts; are they thoughts Jesus would warrant worthy?
If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” can we claim we are following God?