The religious leaders, in their contempt, arrogance and hypocrisy, thought they could get the best of Jesus. Of course, they could not. It has not stopped though. Religious leaders, and their followers, still think they can. Of course, they cannot.
When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show Jesus up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.
Source: Matthew 22:34-40
They wanted to know what command of God is the most important. Give us just one. Narrow it down for us.
Jesus would have none of it. He gave them two. These are foundational to the new covenant and the God’s Kingdom. This is the main thing about the main thing. Everything hangs on these two.
Of course, we know it is all about love of God and our neighbors. The Religious Leaders did not know. That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good. So we know it. Jesus has said it. We believe him.
As the Apostle John tells us:
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
And “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
And again: “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
And finally: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.