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to silence, they were gathered together. The Sadducees had brought before Him a case which they conceived to furnish an unanswerable argument against the doctrine of the resurrection and a future state, which our blessed Saviour had inculcated in His parables and discourses. When they had stated their reason for disbelieving His doctrine, He at once showed them the source of their error. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God; and His reply carried with it such convincing efficacy, that when the multitude heard it, they were astonished at His doctrine ;97 and it appears that the Sadducees were put to silence by it.
The Pharisees then met together to deliberate on the means whereby they might perplex and entangle Him in His speech before the people. They were grieved to see that the plans which had been devised with a view to undermine His credit, were defeated; that the Herodians had not been able to form a plausible ground of accusation against him for sedition and rebellion against the government; and that He had exposed the ignorance and folly of the Sadducees who denied the doctrine of the resurrection. His answers to both these parties had excited the admiration of the multitude, instead of diminishing His credit among them.
27 Matthew xxii. 29, 33.
The result of the deliberation of the Pharisees was, that one of them, which was a lawyer, or an expounder of the law of Moses, asked Him a question, tempting Him, or hoping to ensnare Him to speak of Himself, or against the law of Moses, in such a manner as would have given them the handle against Him for which they were seeking. The lawyer asked Him, saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? It is said that this was a subject greatly disputed among the Jews. Some contended that the law relating to sacrifices was the greatest; some ascribed precedence to that of the Sabbath; some, to that of circumcision; and others to that of the phylacteries, or of the fringes on their garments. Thus some gave the preference to one outward observance, some to another; all of which may be scrupulously attended to, while the person who observes them is destitute of any true religion, or of the love and fear of God. Could they have made the Lord Jesus a partizan in their disputes, He would have been the subject of obloquy on the one side or the other. But their hope seems to have been, that He would have spoken of Himself as having come to overthrow the institutions of Moses altogether, and to introduce a new dispensation. They were, however, as much disappointed on this occasion as they had been before, when both the Herodians and the Sadducees were put to shame. Our blessed Saviour as easily avoided this snare, as those which preceded it. He at once answered their question from the book of the law itself; and in such a way that they were constrained to admit the superiority of His instructions to those which they were accustomed to deliver. Jesus said unto them, 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. Here the question that had been proposed to Him was answered in the most satisfactory manner. But as the Pharisees professed to have a great zeal for God, and yet looked down with contempt on all who did not belong to their sect or body; our Saviour added, 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; and therefore the other matters on which the Pharisees were accustomed to dispute among themselves were of very little comparative importance.
Having given them this answer, our Saviour in His turn put a question to the learned doctors of the law on an important subject mentioned in the prophecies of the Old Testament. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is He? The coming of the Messiah was the object of their expectation. Our Saviour wished them to declare in what character they supposed He would appear. They say unto Him, The son of David. They expected Him to appear as the son of David, the descendant of that King, in whom they gloried as having been the most renowned and successful of their monarchs. But this was only a part of the character of the Messiah. He was to be a partaker of the Divine, as well as of human nature. He saith unto them, How then doth David in Spirit, or by the Holy Ghost, 28 call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool ? If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? This question, how they reconciled the two statements that the Messiah was David's Lord, as well as David's son, was one which they could not or would not solve. Our blessed Lord here intimated to them His own Divine character. They doubtless understood His meaning, but were unwilling to own the force of His argument. Thus they were put to silence as the Sadducees had been. And no man was able to answer Him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions for the purpose of ensnaring Him; because He showed Himself to be so vastly superior to them in knowledge and argument, that they were unable to confound Him before the people. Their controver
sies with Him all tended to raise His credit, and to diminish their own.
The doctrine taught by our Lord Jesus Christ in the text is the most important doctrine that can be set before us. This is what we are to understand by the expressions, the great commandment in the law, the first and great commandment. It declares what is required in the first place and above all things of every rational being to whom God has promulgated His holy law. Supreme love and unreserved obedience are due from the creature to the Creator. “Our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life,” are gifts bestowed upon us which demand our love to the bounteous Giver of all good, from whom they proceed. Let us consider
First, Who is here spoken of as the object of supreme affection.
Secondly, The manner in which our love to Him is to be manifested. And
Thirdly, Its subordinate effect. May the Spirit of God apply the subject to our minds and consciences, that we may feel its importance, and seek grace from Him to enable us to comply with what He has commanded us for our good.
First, Who is the proper object of the supreme affection of mankind ? It is said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. The answer of our blessed Saviour to the Pharisees is taken from the