(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
9. The Most Important Commandment
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.”Throughout His earthly ministry, the Pharisees and Sadducees did all that they could to discredit our Lord Jesus by finding some fault in His teaching. The Pharisees now attempt to see if His teaching of the Law agreed with theirs, considering the fact that they had divided the Law into individual statutes in an effort to show the most important to the least important elements.
“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” In His response to the question, our Lord quoted from two O.T. passages in which the Law had been recorded – Deut.6:4-5 and Lev.19:18 – “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’….’Love your neighbor as yourself.’” The first statement Deut. 6:4-5 called the “Shema” has become the Jewish confession of faith and is still used today at the commencement of each synagogue service. Our Lord added the second statement from Lev.19:18 to show that the natural outcome from a true love of God would be a true love for one’s neighbour . In agreement with our Lord’s response, the Pharisee states, “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” demonstrating that he understood what the O.T. teaches in regards to obedience to God’s commands and our Lord sums it up by saying to him “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” .
10. Jesus’ Question On The Messiah Being David’s Son And David’s Lord [Christ’s Humanity and Deity]
Jesus’ question presented a difficulty, to which no one could respond, “No one could say a word in reply..”. It was a question that presented the fact of His humanity and deity. Jesus asks the people, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”; then quoting from the Psalms He presents David’s response: “David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”” . If the Christ is David’s son (the people knew this ), how then did David refer to Him as his Lord? Christ, in His humanity, is a descendant of David , and the Scriptures also teach His deity, in that He is the Son of God .
11. Jesus In His Last Public Discourse In The Temple, Arraigns The Pharisees
“Beware of the teachers of the law….” “So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
Our Lord, knowing that the time of His crucifixion was at hand, makes a final attempt to expose the deceitfulness of the teachers of the Law, describing some of their hypocrisies to His disciples and the people listening to Him. “Everything they do is done for men to see…” they exhibit an outward expression of service to God, but their hearts are far from Him. Jesus teaches that true service to God begins with humility; “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” .
Our Lord then details several afflictions (woes) on the hypocritical the Pharisees :
· “You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces…..”
· “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”
· “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel”
· “…you have neglected the more important matters of the law– justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
· “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”
· “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
· “You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.”
Our Lord Jesus then refers to the Pharisees as poisonous snakes and asks, “How will you escape being condemned to hell?” . They were approaching the climax of the nation’s total rejection of their God, and would soon seal their fate in the rejection of their Messiah. Our lord sums up their history of rejection beginning with the murder of Abel to that of Zechariah the priest as He speaks to their murdering of God’s messengers which would continue even after His own crucifixion. The judgment of God was inevitable upon the nation that had rejected Him as the city and Temple would be totally destroyed, and the people scattered throughout the then known world as predicted by Moses: “I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.”
Our Lord Jesus then closes this section of His ministry with the lament – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” confirming the fact that the city of His divine affection was about to be destroyed and its people scattered – “Look, your house is left to you desolate.” God had called out to them so many times and in so many ways but they were not willing to hear or answer His call. God did not wish to see their destruction but they left Him no choice . In all of this impending judgment, God has not closed the door on His earthly people, Jesus declared, “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” in reference to a future generation that would finally have their spiritual eyes opened to the fact that their Messiah had come and that He had been rejected. As He then comes to their rescue from complete annihilation they will see Him and acknowledge Him as their Messiah .