THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-28-01
LESSON TITLE: THE LORD'S RESPONSE: WHICH IS THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT?
Welcome to our program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning. Here we are together on another beautiful day which the Lord has given us. No matter what it is like outside, everyday should be magnificent with God on our side!
It is great to have you with us this morning for this time of worship to God. Let me encourage us all to do our part today, to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now let's begin by approaching His throne in prayer.
There are so many good songs we sing together about our great savior, Jesus Christ. This morning we want to sing about how wonderful He is to those who follow His Will! So, won't you join in with the brethren at this time as we sing together, "A Wonderful Savior!"
(SONG # 1)
The last time we had some rain I was driving down the road and I saw something really beautiful in the sky. It had many colors and stood out like a wonderful gift from God. I guess you know what I am talking about by now - a rainbow.
I recall about a year ago I was traveling during a stormy time of the year. It had just started to clear off a bit in a town I was coming to and there it was again. That spectacular gift from God. Towering hundreds of feet in the air. I could see the entire rainbow, from where it touched the ground on one side to where it touched the ground on the other. It was just one of the most spectacular things I had ever seen and it filled my eyes with wonder and amazement.
Of course the first thing which came to my mind again was our wonderful creator and giver of all - our God in Heaven. Have we forgotten that these rainbows have been given to us by God as a sign for those who believe in Him?
If you go back with me to the book of Genesis, we are reminded there of the awesome story of the flood. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. And then the ark floated for over 100 days before it came to rest on dry land - on top of Mount Ararat! It was then that Noah and His family and all the animals left the ark and then Noah made an alter to the Lord God above. In Genesis chapter 9 we know that God was very pleased with Noah, and in verse 16, He made the following statement to His faithful servant, "The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." So the rainbow was placed in the sky as a sign from God to all His creation. The very same sign to us as His creation today. But what was the sign that God wanted them, as well as us to know?
Go with me again to the Bible and let's read verses 13-15. There God told Noah, "I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh." So, a rainbow in the sky reminds us of the promise of God that He will never again destroy the earth or His creation with water.
However, as we started out our discussion, these rainbows also remind me of the great power and majesty of the God we serve. He has continued to put this sign in the sky. He has continued to keep the promise sealed by it. And He will always fulfill the words He has spoken through the Spirit.
So next time you see one of these spectacular gifts from God in the sky, remember all that God has done, is doing and will do for you. Furthermore, let it be an encouragement to us to know that He had the power to do such a wondrous thing, because surely this means He will be able to fulfill all of His promises!
This morning we have a guest speaker with us. He is the minister for the Church of Christ in Marshfield, Missouri. We are happy to have brother Paul Fisher with us today, to lead us in our study from God's Word. Concerning our topic, we are still considering our series called "The Lord's Response." Our specific lesson this morning will be, "Which is the greatest commandment?" So, please stay with us and in a few minutes brother Fisher will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the day, the name of the song, "Give Me The Bible."
(BREAK FOR SONG # 2)
Speaker: Paul Fisher
Many questions were asked of Jesus Christ while He was here on this earth. Some were asked by people seeking knowledge while others were asked by people seeking to entrap Jesus in His answers. During the week, prior to His crucifixion, many of the rulers of the Jews sought to find a way to discredit Jesus through His words. They asked many questions hoping to find something wrong with His answers that they might accuse Him before the courts of their day or at least to discredit Him before the people.
In Matthew chapter 22 in verses 34 through 40, we find one such attempt. Please listen and follow along as we read this account in your Bible. But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question testing Him and saying, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment." And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbors as yourself. On these two commands, hang all the law on the prophets.
Let's look at the question. Which is the great commandment of the law? This was something that the different Jewish leaders had questioned for quite some time, and there had been a great deal of debate over the answers that had been given. Some Jewish leaders claimed that the different feasts were the most important. While others (thought) wearing the proper clothing was of the greatest importance. While others said that the laws of purification were those things that were the greatest importance. With over six hundred commandments in the law of Moses, there was plenty of room for argument. But our Lord, with His response, cut to the very heart of the matter. He put forth such an answer that even the one asking the question, admired Him.
For we read in a parallel passage found in Mark 12, verses 32 through 33, So the scribe (or the lawyer as he is called in the book of Matthew) said to Him, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth for there is one God and there is none other but He, and to love Him with all the heart and with all of the understanding, with all the soul, with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself is more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. Remember that this man asked the question to Jesus to tempt Him. But after listening to the answer, he had to admit that Jesus has answered him fully and in a better way than he expected Jesus to.
When we seek God's answer to really important questions of this life, we often find that He has answered them fully and in a much better way than we expected. But now let us look at the response of our Lord to the question, "Which is the great commandment?" You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. The answer Jesus gave came straight from scripture for He quoted Deuteronomy chapter 6 and verse 5. Here was a passage that this man of the law of Moses knew and just as answered the temptations of Satan in the wilderness with scripture, so answered He this temptation. We are to love God with all our being. That is what the verse is getting at. Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love the Lord your God with all your soul. Love the Lord your God with all your mind. Love the Lord your God with everything ounce of being you have. Loving God is the most important thing that we can do. We show love by doing things that will please the one that we love.
Jesus said in John 14:15, If you love me, keep my commandments.
As a matter of fact, the apostle John writing by inspiration of God wrote about how important it is to love God. In 1 John chapter 4, verses 7 through 8 he wrote, Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God for God is love.
Because of our love for God, we will keep His commandments. That includes all that God has revealed for us to keep through His word. Some of those things are very easy like "Do not murder." While other things are very hard like "Loving your enemies, Bless those who curse you, Do good to those who hate you and pray for those who curse you and spitefully use you and persecute you."
Do you claim to love God and yet you're not obedient to His will? Do you claim to love God and yet you do not attend all of the scheduled services? Do you claim to love God and yet hate your enemies? Do you claim to love God and yet seek vengeance or hold grudges against certain people? Do you claim to love God and yet Monday through Saturday know one can tell that you're a Christian by the things that you do and say? It is often quite easy to claim that we love someone or something but is altogether different to prove that love by our lives.
Remember your first love? How you wanted to be with that person? All the time you wanted to be with that person. You wanted to do anything they wanted done. You paid close attention to their very words and actions. Well God expects us to love Him just like that and more. That first love may have just been a physical attraction, but to love God like we should takes thought and action on our parts.
But Jesus did not just stop with love for God although everything else hinges or depends upon that greatest of all commandments. Jesus continued with a second. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love God first and your neighbor as yourself. If we do not have self respect, we will not be able to love our neighbor in the correct manner. If we treat ourselves badly, we will treat our neighbors in the same way. But if we have self respect, then we can treat our neighbors in a loving way. What a different place this world would be if only we took these words of our Lord and Savior to our heart. Just think how improved your neighborhood could be if all your neighbors put each other's good before their own. Just think how different it would be if we truly loved our neighbors. Is their someone in your neighborhood who is disliked or maybe even distrusted by the other neighbors? If so, try to get to know that person remembering that to have a friend, you must be friendly first yourself. Plus, we can not be a true friend to someone that we do not know.
In Luke's account of this type of question being asked Jesus, the one asking the question went on to ask, "Who is my neighbor?" Often, we think the same way. Here was a man who wanted to be justified by what he was already doing, but Jesus knowing the intent of the heart behind the questions asked, so He told the story of the good Samaritan to illustrate who this man's neighbors really were. In the story of the good Samaritan, a man went from Jericho to Jerusalem. He fell among thieves who beat him, stripped him of his clothes, and left him for dead. A priest came along and seeing him afar off, moved to the other side of the road and passed by. A Levite likewise did the same. But behold, a Samaritan, one whom the Jews despised, came along. Seeing the man, he stopped, helped the man by tending to his wounds, picked him up, put him on his animal and took him to an inn. That night he stayed up taking care of the man. In the morning, before he left, he left funds to take care of the man's needs until he got back and told the innkeeper that if more was spent that he would pay that when he returned. And then Jesus asked this man, "Who was his neighbor?" To this Jewish man, his idea of a neighbor was limited to his fellow Jews. And how often do we act the same way? We want God to approve of what we are doing without any change on our part. How often do we have the same type of limits when we consider who our neighbors are? They are people very much like ourselves, we will think. They can be people of another race, another color, or even another country, but Jesus used the example of one who, despised by the Jews, not just a neighbor but this man was truly the good neighbor putting others first. That is the key of being a good neighbor. Putting others first. Also, if we sin against our neighbors, we're sinning against God because man was created in the image of God and when we sin against man, we are sinning against the objects of God's love, John 3:16.
Are you a good neighbor? Do you know the people who live around you? Do you seek their good before your own? If you are a Christian, have you taken the soul-saving word of God to those people? If not, can you truly think of yourself as being a good neighbor? Jesus stated that all the law of Moses was hung or supported by these two commandments. The first, to love God with your whole being, not holding back anything. The second, to love our neighbors as ourselves. My friends, not only were these two greatest commandments of the law of Moses, but they are also the two greatest commandments in the law of Jesus Christ. Well, someone might say, "Well, preacher, now wait a minute. We do not live under law, but we live under grace." Well, that is true, but also remember that love without law is power without direction and that law without love is machinery without a motor. Love for God causes us to seek to know Him better. And love and respect for our neighbors makes us better people. This morning, ask yourself, "Do I love God as I ought?" Remember you can love someone you do not know. Get to know God through the studying of His eternal word. The more you know Him, the better you will love Him because He first loved you and gave His only begotten son to die in your place. Do you love your neighbor? If you love God like you should, you will love your neighbor. Our Lord knew how to answer the questions that were asked Him. Do you have questions concerning life, morality, death and eternity? Do you have questions like, "Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?" My friends, Jesus can answer all these questions if only you will let Him.
What is the greatest commandment? Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. That is what we are to do being Christians. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was able to respond because He was here doing the Father's will. We pray that you too will also want to do our Lord's will. Come to worship with us this morning. Study God's word. Sing songs of praises to His great and glorious name. Bow your head in prayer and give Him praise and thanksgiving for all the many blessings that He has blessed you with. We pray that you would come.
(SONG # 3 - "To God Be The Glory!"
Thanks for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. And let me invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a free cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or free Bible correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:
The Living Word
2540 N. Kansas Expressway
Springfield, Mo. 65803
Our web page address is:
Or if you prefer, you may call us at:
As followers of God, may we all learn to focus more on and keep His commandments, so that we might be found pleasing in His sight!