34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
An expert is someone who has a “comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of a subject.” So why does an “expert in the law” feel a need to quiz Jesus about the very subject he is considered to be an expert in? Obviously, there is a trap to be laid.
The Sadducees and Pharisees want to do away with the threat that Jesus posed for their position of authority they held. This story reveals a deeper problem for this “expert.” It’s a problem that hinders many in of us in our attempts to follow the law of Christ.
Humans are doers. We like checklists and “to-do” lists. We want the plans to life in 3 easy steps or some chart to show us exactly how we are to behave. That’s basically what our expert in today’s story is asking. Notice, however, that Jesus’ answer does not center on actions to take as much as it does a relationship that’s missing.
Jesus knows something our expert can’t because he is missing a very important ingredient in the equation. He is missing intimacy with God. Jesus talked about this elsewhere in another Gospel: Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way” (John 5:19, HCSB).
Jesus knows that obedience to His Father is first about knowing God, not about knowing facts. It’s about intimacy with Him rather than actions we take for Him. If we are to be obedient followers of Christ, we must learn to live within relationship with God and others.
In this intimacy is where we learn the heart of God. It’s where we move from “experts in the law” to sons and daughters of God. It takes from a head full of facts and knowledge to a heart full of love. And when our hearts are full of love for God, the natural outflow of what we do is love for our neighbors in a way we could not before.
If I am to love God and love others, I’ve got to know God. Not just know about Him. Anyone can know about Him. In fact, there are many who have an abundance of knowledge about God and His Word without having an ounce of intimacy with Him. But this intimacy makes us more aware of His presence. It enables us to be more sensitive to His Spirit in us.
The quickest way to intimacy with God is greater exposure to His character through the reading of His Word, through prayer, through worship and through study. As we become more aware of His presence in our daily activities, our actions become a response to who He is rather than a well rehearsed behavior.
- Study God’s word to find out more about His character. Look for specific character traits that reveal who God is and write about them in your journal.
- Try to be more sensitive to God’s presence with you in ALL parts of your day, not just during worship on Sunday or a quiet time in the morning.
- Ask God to make your heart more sensitive to His Spirit as He leads you to love others through your actions. Look for places where God is already at work and find ways to join Him in that work.