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Being a Lawyer it was natural his question should be of the Law. Besides the unchanging ten commandments which shall never pass away till all be fulfilled ; God had given through Moses many laws which were to keep His people separate from the nations round. These regarded sacrifices, circumcision, purification, and many other things they were bound to observe. Which of these were of the most importance was a frequent subject of debate, and drew men's minds away from God by vexatious disputes. Oh mind of man, harassed and tossed by difficulties of thine own creating, how different art thou from the mind of God! Different as the mists and
of earth from the pure sunlight of heaven. The answer of Jesus was as a ray from above.
Verses 29—31. “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel ; the Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like it, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
MATTHEW xxii. 40. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'
This answer of our Lord, if we would but remember it, and understand and feel its meaning, would for ever settle all the questions that perplex our minds as to what manner of service is, or is not, acceptable to God.
“ Hear, Oh Israel ” and ye who are counted as the children of Abraham, all faithful believers in Christ, “the Lord our God is one Lord.” There is none other to divide with Him bis authority or our obedience. And thou shalt love Him with all the affections of thy heart, giving the chief place in thy love to none but Him. With all the longings of thy soul, satisfied with no rest but in Him. With all the powers of thy mind, seeking to serve Him in the use of such abilities as He hath given thee. With all the strength of thy will and purpose, so that with body and soul thou dost ever feel that it is thy glory and thy chiefest joy to do His will.
Thus love the Lord thy God. Then shall His service be made plain to thee—then shall the second great commandment most surely follow, even as the fruit doth cover a goodly bough grafted into a goodly tree, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Thy mind strengthened and enlarged, will not seek thy selfish good, but loving all for the sake of God, thou shalt feel thyself the better and the happier that thou dost seek the good of all.
The words of Jesus were as a beam of light. They flashed conviction upon the mind of the Pharisee. All desire for subtle questioning was gone.
He answered straight, MARK xii. 32, 33. “Well, Master, thou hast well said : for there is one God; and there is none other but He: and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.'
The Scribe saw in a moment that if the love of the heart was wanting, the costliest gift would be nothing, and that if the love of the heart were there, nothing would be withheld.
“ Verse 34. “ And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”
We hear of this man no more, but as we have the Lord's promise that “whosoever hath, to him shall more be given," we may trust that he rested not till he had entered the kingdom of God. What was it that he needed? He had confessed that God must thus be loved. He must so love him. He must, and we must, but how? Oh that we would bring to the wants of the soul the same instinctive sense that we give to the wants of the body! When cold and chill, do we remain in the shade ? No, we seek the warm sunshine that we may be warm. In like manner let us seek to know and feel the love God has for us, then our hearts within us shall glow with answering love. 6 We love Him because he first loved us.”
Prayer. Oh God of love, my heart is open before Thee. Known to Thee are all my wants. I bless Thee that it is so, for though I hide my face in shame, that Thou, oh Holiest, dost see every thought of my heart, even as it rises up within me, yet since Christ Thy Son has died for me, a sacrifice for sin, I may look up to Thee as my reconciled Father, and pray to Thee, to make me such as Thy child should be. Oh, fill me with such love of Thee, that I may delight to do Thy will. Then shall all mankind be dear to me, for all are Thine, the work of Thy hands, and Thy Son has left this command: "Even as I have loved
love one another." For His sake, my God, hear my prayers. Amen.
you, see that
The crowds which stood around the Saviour in the courts of the Temple, were deeply impressed by the power of his wisdom:
Mark xii. 34. “And no man after that durst ask him any question.” Jesus made use of the silence that followed, by putting in his turn a question to the Pharisees," while they were gathered together." He would draw their attention to those parts of the Scriptures, which they acknowledge to be prophetic of the Messiah. From them they might learn to look for a deeper mystery, than merely the rule of an earthly prince.
MATTHEW xxii. 41-45. “He asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit 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 ?”*
David's son, yet David's Lord! If they would search the Scriptures, they would find that Christ their Messiah was to be at once the Son and the Lord of David, and now, in Him whose death they were bent upon accomplishing, they would find the wondrous prophecy fulfilled. Could they but put from them all anger and malice, and with willing hearts receive the witness of men as they would on any other question, they would find that it agreed with the witness of God given long before through His holy prophets, and also in their own day, in the signs and wonders they had seen wrought before their eyes. Many still lived who could tell of the wondrous birth of Jesus, Let them inquire, and they would find, that all that was said of it agreed with the prophecy of Isaiah. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” † The wonders of that time had been too public to have been forgotten in the thirty years that bad passed between. The angels that had appeared to the shepherds, and sent them to search for Jesus, a new born-babe wrapt in swaddling-clothes and lying
manger, the visit of the wise men guided by a star from a far country in the East, likewise to search for him who they said was born the king of Israel: Herod's anger and fear at this their search, when all Jerusalem was troubled with him : the prophecy of Zechariah the father of John the Baptist, and of Simeon in the very temple wherein they were all now standing, given before the priests to whom the infant Jesus had been brought to be circumcised—these things had been too public, and were too remarkable to have been forgotten. They all confirmed the truth of the words of the Mother of our Lord, when she told how that the angel Gabriel had come to her, "a virgin of the house and lineage of David,” to announce to her that she had been chosen by God, "blessed among women,” to be the mother of the Messiah, whose name should be Jesus, "the Son of the Highest," "and that the Lord God would give unto him the throne of his father David : and he should reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there should be no end." Mary the mother of our Lord declared him to be the Son of no mortal man, but born according to the words of the angel by “the power of the Highest,” and therefore " the Son of God."*
+ Isaiah vii. *14. Matthew i. 23.
* Psalm cx.
The Pharisees could not answer a word to the question of Jesus respecting the Christ they professed to be looking for. “If David call him Lord, how (or whence) is he then his Son." He was Himself the only answer. Born of the virgin Mary, of the house of David, and therefore David's son. The Son of the Highest, and therefore David's Lord.
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not." He had come to his own, and his own received bim not. But as many as received him, to them gave
he power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believe on his name." +
And some of them who heard Jesus speak, did in the end believe, for we read in the Book of Acts, that a short time later "a great company of priests were added to the faith.” * Luke i. 26-36.
+ John i, 10-12.