Matthew 22, 34-36
Something to read
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’
New Revised Standard Version
To read the King James Version, click here
Something to think about
The questioning and testing of wise scholars with riddles or difficult questions is at least as old as the stories of Solomon in Jewish traditions (1 Kings 10 v1).
Jesus must have been quite used to people asking him difficult and probing questions. The gospels are littered with stories of people enquiring of Jesus about a broad range of subjects and with a variety of motivations. In this instance, Matthew identifies the questioner as a lawyer, a Pharisee.
As a group the Pharisees appear to be motivated by the silencing of the Sadducees – I wonder how they felt about this? Did they hope to do better? They certainly want to ‘test’ Jesus and in this sense there is malice to their intent.
The question they ask is a familiar one, regularly debated by the Pharisees themselves. In one sense, each command carried equal weight and yet scholars would discuss which was the ‘greatest’.
What did they hope to gain by pressing Jesus with this question? Why is it so difficult to determine the merits of one commandment against another?
Something to do
Write down the questions you most want to ask Jesus. Why are those particular questions important to you and what do you hope to learn from his answers?
Something to pray
in the gospels you answer questions
with wisdom and perception,
with compassion and challenge,
with truth and authority.
May all who seek you still,
with difficult questions,
find you and hear your answers.
Help me to come to you
in humility and honesty
with my own deepest
and most important questions.
Give me the courage
to listen and receive
Today’s contributor is the Rev Jeremy Allcock, Vicar of St Stephen’s, Westbourne Park, west London, and Area Dean of Paddington.