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In Matthew 22:36-39 Yeshua was asked by the Pharisees “what is the greatest commandment in the law”?
In a different context, the question could have been very genuine. However, when you consider the source, it is highly suspect.
Who are the Pharisees?
There were different sects of Pharisees but they were all Jewish, holding tightly to their specific interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Not insignificantly, even though they held tightly to their interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures, they held even tighter to their oral traditions.
What is the greatest commandment in the law is a skewed question
The question itself is a bit skewed. It reveals their hearts.
What I mean is if the question was originally posed as we see it presented, it automatically gives us clues to their perspective.
- What is the greatest COMMANDMENT? The Greek word that is translated into the English word commandment is Strongs #G1785. Strongs #1785 is found 71 times in the Renewed Covenant (NT). In the KJV it is translated into the English word “precept” 2 times. 69 times it is translated into the word “commandment”.
A commandment is a command or mandate given by an authority. Of course, if there are no consequences for not submitting to the commandment then there would be no commandment.
- The word LAW is translated from Strongs #G3551. Strongs #3551 is found 197 times in the Renewed Covenant. Every time it is translated into the English word “law”.
Law is a rule that is prescribed by a governmental authority.
The question asked by the Pharisees is flawed and it is coming from a skewed perspective. It reveals their hearts.
It would kind of be like asking someone “what is the worst part of the Bible?” There is no way to directly answer the question because to do so would be to say that the Bible is a bad book and there is one part of it that is worse than the rest.
What these religious zealots seem to be asking is something like this: Out of all of the rules that one could extract from the Bible, which one is considered the most egregious to violate?”
In this case, by “law”, the Pharisees were probably referring to the Torah which is based upon the Ten Commandments.
The “law” in the Tanach (OT)
In Exodus 24:12, referring to what is commonly called the Ten “Commandments”, the word “Law” is translated from Strongs #H8451. It is the Hebrew word Torah. Torah means “to point”, instruction, direction.
Jesus is not anti-Torah. After all, He wrote it and is all about Him.
These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.Luke 24:44
Not only did He write it but then He came to fulfill the prophecies within it.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.Matthew 5:17
From reality to religion
But for the Pharisees, between the time God gave Moses the Ten instructions, and Matthew 22:36 (above), God’s loving instructions for life became the “commandments of the law”
So when Yeshua was asked “What is the greatest commandment of the law” He was responding to people who had no idea what they were asking; nor were they able of comprehending the answer.
The language of love was not in their vocabulary. They only spoke the language of religion.
The spirit of religion
The spirit of religion, which the Pharisees seem to be infested with, is a hideous plague, just as all evil spirits are.
The spirit of religion is perhaps one of the worst because it blinds the victim up in such a way that it causes them to see religious duty as spiritual relationship.
When a religious person with the spirit of religion looks in the mirror they see reverence, duty, piety. They are unable to see love, relationship, devotion in its fulness.
If you have ever looked at things under a “black light” it would kind of be like that. Everything looks normal until you turn the black light on and then certain things stand out.
When a person has a spirit of religion, they appear normal to most but when light is activated it become exposed.
For example, while a religious person chooses to participate in a fellowship meeting, a person with an authentic relationship with Yeshua would participate in that same meeting just by virtue of who they are.
As water runs downhill by nature, a person in genuine relationship with Yeshua will be who they are and they will be recognized for those attributes more than the choices that they make.
In other words, a person with white skin and brown hair does not “choose” that appearance; they just “are”. When they look in the mirror they don’t “decide” to look that way, they just do.
Likewise, when a person is in genuine relationship with Yeshua they don’t “choose” to appear that way, their life just reflects it as a matter of their being; just as it reflects the color of their skin and hair.
Love is contrary to the law
In this context, love is the opposite of religion. In this way, it could likewise be said that “love” is contrary to “the law” (as it is defined by the Pharisees/ spirit of religion.
From my perspective, the religious spirit is running rampant in America and it has little or nothing to do with love. It is fruit from the seeds planted by early puritans, pilgrims and other religious people.
By no means am I faulting colonials who came from Europe to escape horrendous and grotesque persecution at the hands of the (religious) catholic “church”.
Rather I am simply pointing out a severe hurdle that is raised by a hideous evil spirit (the spirit of religion) that I don’t think most well-meaning Christians recognize as even existing.
Renounce and Reject religion
Today I encourage you to sit and meditate. Take an honest inventory of your life, your thoughts, your practices. Are they real or are they just religious repetition?
Ask God to help reveal truth to you and He will.
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