What is The Greatest Commandment?

by Steve Smith

We praise God for the son of thy love, for Jesus,

who died and is now gone above,

Hallelujah, thine the glory, Hallelujah Amen,

Hallelujah thine the glory, revive us again.

Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love.

May also be rekindled with fire from above.

Hallelujah thine the glory, Hallelujah Amen,

Hallelujah thine the glory, revive us again.


Let’s Go to Our Father In Prayer


Father God, we thank you so much for this day. It has been such a wonderful day. Wonderful opportunity. We can come and praise you, Lord. We thank you so much for the gift of song. And how it uplifts our hearts and brings us closer to you, but above all Lord, how it praises you. When we pray, we do that in a well, pleasing manner to you.


Lord, thank you so much for this avenue of prayer. Lord, we should be on our knees all the time because we need you every hour, every minute, every second. Lord, help us to realize that and understand that so that we know that we can come to you any time with anything. Thank you for letting us know that you’re there for us always, that you always listen and always answer. Lord, we pray that you be with us as we continue in this service as Steve, brings us this lesson and opens your word.


Thank you so much for the Bible Lord. Thank you for the guidance that it gives us and the path that leads us to you. We thank you so much for the comfort that it gives us peace. Lord, I prayed that you be with us if you go through this week. Help us, Lord, to always know and remember that we represent you. And the way people see us, they should see Christ, that we should live our lives, examples to others, that we should be salt and light help us Lord to keep that first and foremost in our minds.

Forgive us of all our sins Lord. Amen!

Let’s All Stand and Sing

I’m in the way, the bright and shining light.

I’m in the glory land way.

Telling the world that Jesus saves today.

Yes, I am in the glory land way.

Heaven is nearer and the way groweth clearer,

for I am in the glory land way.


Onward I go rejoicing in His love.

I’m in the glory land way.

Soon I shall see Him in that home above.

O, I am in the glory land way.


Good evening. Have a seat. It’s good to see you all back here tonight. Always excited about that.


Matthew 22:34-40

Turn your Bibles with me to Matthew, Chapter 22. We’re going to spend some time together, Matthew Chapter 22 verses 34 through 40 is where we want to start tonight. And I’m again so thankful to have each of you back with us. It’s always good to go away on vacation, but I missed you while I was gone. And so now I’m happy to be back with you.

But let’s just start reading in verse 34 of Matthew, chapter 22. It says, But 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, what is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Jesus Calls us to Love God Fully

No doubt you have read those words on multiple occasions throughout your time with Christ and Church, wherever that might be. These are familiar words to us. Jesus is calling us here to love God fully, to love God completely, to love Him with our entire being. Heart, soul, mind, and strength. So, what would that look like?


What Would It Look Like?


If every instance and at every single turn of our life we took seriously this command of Jesus, loving Him with everything that we have, every ounce of our being. What would it look like? A loving God as we should, would also cause us as we read in verses thirty-nine and forty, to love each other as we should, wouldn’t it?


Live A Life of Extraordinary Quality


So now most of us, I believe, would like to live a life of extraordinary quality. I don’t think that’s crazy. I think most of us would say, yeah, I want to live a great life. I want to have this great, extraordinary quality, a life that’s not only fulfilling, but also carries significance beyond ourselves. That is most likely one of the reasons you became a Christian in the first place. To have a life of impact, a life of meaning, not just for yourself.


Helping Others Find Salvation


It’s not just about my own salvation, but about helping others find that same salvation. Are you aware that this is the exact kind of life that Jesus is promising us?


Jesus Give us an Extraordinary Life


If we follow him, he says, I’m going to give you this amazing life, this extraordinary life, one that has a purpose beyond yourself. This is the kind of quality life that Jesus promises each and every one of us. And so the question as we look around, maybe we don’t see that.

And so the question becomes, well, why isn’t it happening?


Are You Living Lives of Quiet Desperation?


Why instead of abundant life, do many of us end up living lives of quiet desperation?

And I’m not just talking about a moment here and there, but I mean more times than not just quietly desperate for something. I mean, oftentimes we have people who go to church who read the Bible, who pray, who try to be good people to serve other people.


Our Life with Jesus Doesn’t Seem To Be Much More Than An Add-On


Yet for many of us, our life with Jesus doesn’t seem to be much more than an add-on to our increasingly complex lives where we are overstretched and now seem to be facing a tsunami of uncertainty in many areas so that for so long have seemed relatively secure. We face the tsunami of finances and jobs and homes and fundamental safety in all of these things. Then the middle, it’s like, OK, well, what do we do here? What is this and what happens?


We Settle for Something Far Less Than What God Had Planned For Us


What ends up happening is a lot of us begin to settle. We settle for something far less than what God had planned for us. And while some settle others, they just give up altogether. And I just I just can’t add another thing to my plate and still others of us, we say, no, we’re going to do this. We’re going to try harder, going to work hard. We’re going to pray hard, we’re going to study harder and we’re going to try to figure out what we’re doing wrong, because that’s what we think Jesus wants us to do.

And all the while, Jesus is in the background waving his hand, trying to get our attention. And he’s asking, in a sense, are you tired yet?


Are You Burned Out?


Are you tired of this yet? Are you worn out? Are you burned out? Come to me. Just come to me. He says my burdens like all of that’s easy. Come to me and you can get out of life. What do you want to get out of life?


Learn The Unforced Rhythms of Grace


Get away with me and you’ll recover in real life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I want you to notice something that I think is very important. Jesus is not a problem to be solved. He’s a person to know, and when we try to relate to Jesus as a how or a what, we end up in this never-ending cycle of trying harder to fit into an equation that God never meant for us to try to fit into. Not even more or less attempt to solve instead of trying harder.


You Need to Trust Harder


My suggestion to you tonight is that we need to trust harder. We need to trust Him more. It’s not about more effort. It’s about more trust. Josh Graves in his book “The Feast”, tells of a recurring vision he has experienced. He’s standing in the middle of a crowd of people following an ancient rabbi. And as best he can tell in this vision, he has this dream. He has this rabbi, Jesus. And the crowd is huge.


Jesus Says I Do Not Need Any More Admirers


Murmurs, questions, and all fill the air around this scene. He says he can sense the anticipation working its way to each person present. And then Jesus turns to the large crowd, and he says this. He says I know you admire me. You cheer for me, and you root for my cause. I’m honored some of you believe in me and worship me. However, I do not need any more admirers, fans, worshipers, or believers. I’m going to Jerusalem to take up the cross.


Jesus is Consistently Moving Us Toward Making a Choice


I need some people who are willing to follow me. And the crowd gets smaller, and people begin to shrink away and Graves’ finishes by saying, I also sneak away waffling in my own doubt and my own fear and my own apathy. Interesting vision, isn’t it? As we follow Jesus, we’re going to find something amazing and this amazing thing that we’re going to find as we follow Jesus is that he is consistently moving us toward making a choice. He’s continuously doing this in our lives.

He wants us to make a choice. And then he commands us to make a choice. He’s moving us toward a choice, and he commands us to make a choice. And really, it all comes down to this. And I know this may be deep for this lesson, but it all comes down to this. Will you believe that Jesus is adequate to meet your needs or not? Jesus is asking, will you let me be myself in and through you or not?


Are You Going to Follow Me into The Kingdom of God? Asks Jesus


And in a sense, he’s framing the question like this. Are you going to follow me into the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, or are you going to remain citizens of the world?

This is the question that Jesus has for us, will you set your mind on things above or are you going to keep focusing on the earthly things? Paul gives us the path we should follow in Colossians chapter three and verses one through three when he says, if then you have been raised with Christ.


Seek The Things that Are Above


This is where our minds should be. This is where it should be all about. Seek those things which are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ and God. And when Christ who is our life appears, then you will also appear with him and glory.

That’s the path that God calls us to. This is the path he wants us to follow. And let me say this about God and His Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven is something that we can actually enter into now.


The Kingdom of Heaven is Something We Are Meant to Live Now


It’s not a kingdom and some far-off distant future. But no, when we follow Jesus, we follow him into a kingdom, into the kingdom, and there we learn to live according to his rules. Rules He’s established. Rules that he’s laid out for us as The King.

And we then live as citizens of that world and not just citizens of this one, because you can’t remain in the kingdom of this world with its rules and its laws. You can’t remain in the kingdom of this world with its rules and its laws. But if you do, you’re probably not going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. In John chapter six, I invite your attention there, there is this incredible section of scripture, Jesus is just amazing.


Amazing Things Jesus Did


He feeds 5,000 men, not to mention women and children with 12 loaves. And it’s an amazing thing. The people are overwhelmed and overjoyed that Jesus has done this. And they are ready right then and there to crown him King. But Jesus kind of sneaks away.

They go looking for him and they found him. It just so happens to be breakfast. He took care of dinner and it’s breakfast time and they find him, and they ask him, hey, how did you get here? and he says, listen, you’re coming for the wrong reasons.


What Did Jesus Mean When He Said You Got to Drink My Flesh and Eat My Blood?


Take a look with me at verse sixty-three through verse sixty-nine. He says when many of his disciples heard it and what he said was, you got to drink my flesh and eat my blood if you’re going to be a part of this.


How to Have Eternal Life?


Why don’t we back up to verse 52 and the Jews then disputed among themselves saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat? So, Jesus said to them, truly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day for my flesh, is true blood food and my blood is true drink.  56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.


Whoever Feeds on This Bread Will Live Forever


This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever. Jesus said these things in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Well, when Jesus says these difficult things, I mean they run away from him. This is a hard saying. They say in verse sixty who can listen to it.


Who Did Not Believe in Who He Was?


Jesus knowing and himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is a spirit who gives life. The flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit in life. But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning those who were, who did not believe in who He was, who would betray him.


Many of His Disciples Turned Their Back and No Longer Walked With Him


And he said this is why I told you that no one can come to the Father unless it is granted by the Father. And after this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. And so Jesus said to the twelve, Do you also want to go away? And Simon answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that you are the holy one of God.

What do you do with this story? Jesus does this amazing miracle, and the next day he offends everybody, and they all walk away.


Why Did Jesus Drive People Away From Him?


What do we do with this story? It’s a difficult story for people interested in growing a church, isn’t it, because here Jesus ends up driving away thousands upon thousands of people. In fact, by the end of his teaching, only 12 remain. Not one author says that this way, Jesus apparently wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses.


Jesus Demands Radical Obedience to Him


His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were willing to accept, and he seemed to be OK with that. He focused instead on the few who believed Him when He said radical things. And through their radical obedience to Him, he turned the course of history in a new direction. There are two questions, I think, that we have to ask ourselves. The first is simple question number one:


Am I going to believe in Jesus?

Am I going to embrace Jesus?


Even though, as some of the things he said are so hard to follow and ultimately are going to drive people away from us? But am I going to believe in Jesus or not? What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

It doesn’t mean I mentally assent to something. It’s about trusting him, as we already said. It’s about walking where he walked and doing what he did and being about what he’s about.

When I believe it doesn’t just mean. Well, I think that there was a guy that lived 2,000 years ago. That’s not what this is this whole belief thing.

It’s more than that. It’s saying I’m trusting my life into your hands. Are you willing to do that? Are you going to believe in Jesus?

You say we’re here. We’ve already done that. Well, great, because that leads to the second question.

The first is easy. The second is harder.


Are You Going to Obey Jesus?


Not to start, are you going to believe? Are you going to obey Jesus? Because here’s my fear and my fear is we’ll hear Jesus’ words and we’ll walk away. Content to settle for less than the radical obedience that he calls us to. Will we do what? What these guys did here in John, Chapter six? Oh, I’ll follow you. So far, Jesus, but I’m not willing to go all-in, and so we come to this moment of choice.


Jesus Doesn’t Only Want You to Just Believe But Trust and Obey Him


Will we continue with business as normal and the Christian life and the church as a whole, enjoying what we would call success based on standards of the culture around us? Or will we take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed Him and really obeyed Him? For some of you I know right now, your life wouldn’t change all that much, you are really believing in Him, and you are really obeying Him.

And that man I’m. Oh, that’s so good. That’s what we want. We want an army of people that not just believe but trust and obey him as well. But for some, it’s a tough question, isn’t it? We’re willing to take an honest look at the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him. I want you to know something right now. Jesus knows the realities of this life, and he also knows the realities of eternity.


Why We Must Look to Jesus For Answers


His eye is on the end game. He knows there will be judgment for those outside his grace, and so he approaches this world with a different point of view, and this is why we must look to Jesus for answers. He’s not one of many truths. He is the truth. We must know a Christ who is real and who is solid, and this knowing doesn’t come from just memorizing a few passages of scripture. As important as memorizing scripture is, no, it comes from a willingness to pay the cost of knowing and sacrificially living out what we believe to be true about him and some of us.


Who Created the Koinonia Farm?


At one point in our life, we were willing to go all in. We were sacrificially willing to give it all away and then we just kind of do it. I just kind of settle for the easy life. If you will, let me tell you of two brothers, Robert and Clarence Jordan. Many of you have heard the name Clarence Jordan before. He was an influential writer and activist in Georgia in the 40s and 50s.

Clarence approached his brother Robert with a who was a powerful lawyer to help provide some protection for Clarence’s demonstration plot. The Koinonia Farm was created to be a visible sign that African Americans and whites, poor and rich, could live together peacefully. It was a radical project, especially in the 50s. I mean, you think about Koinonia Farm, it would be tough to do today, but how much more in the 50s? Clarence believed his brother might be able to provide some legal advice or protection to ensure the continuation of his vision, the birth, the Koinonia Farm.

Here’s one of here’s one recollection of a conversation that they had. I want you to listen to this. When Robert was asked for assistance by Clarence, here’s what he said. Then Clarence said, I can’t do that. You know, my political aspirations, why, if I represented you, I might lose my job, my house, everything I got, we might lose everything to Bob. Clarence said, well, it’s different for you. Bob replied back.


Why Did Clarence Told Robert “I Don’t Believe You’re a Disciple”?


Why is it different? I remember it seems to me that you and I joined the same church the same Sunday as boys. I expect when we came forward, the same preacher asked me the same question. He did you he asked me, do you believe Jesus is Lord and Savior? And I said, yes. What did you say? And here’s what Roberts said. I follow Jesus, Clarence up to a point. Could that point be by any chance be the cross?

That’s right. I follow him to the cross, but not on the cross. I’m not getting myself crucified. Clarence said that I don’t believe you’re a disciple, you’re an admirer of Jesus, but not a disciple of his. I think you ought to go back to the church where you belong to and tell them you’re an admirer, not a disciple. Well, now, if everyone who felt I like, I do, I did that, we wouldn’t have a church, would we?

Clarence said. Do we even have a church? Without it. Interesting exchange, isn’t it? Interesting exchange, I’m willing to follow Jesus. To a point. And I wonder. So I think about my own life, is that me? I say I’m going all-in with Jesus. Oh, I don’t know about that. I’ll follow Jesus to a point. My spectator, or am I truly falling my admirer of Jesus or a follower of Jesus?


Are You Willing to Lay Everything Down for The Kingdom?


Like most people, I find myself between these two brothers, right? There are times, man, I’m willing to lay everything down for the kingdom. I’ll go where you want me to go, and then there are times that I do everything in my power to keep up my comfortable life and position.

Can I get something from you? Maybe there’s one or two of us that are in the same boat. I think the real struggle is understanding the difference between having Jesus as an add-on to your life and Jesus as the reason for your life.

So which one is easy for you? Will you follow Jesus into a new life or will you try to attach him to your current life?


I know so many people who are trying to do just that. They’re trying to attach Jesus to their already busy life. So, let me give you an example of someone who is attaching Jesus on to their life and someone who has Jesus for as the reason for the life without help. So here, here’s someone who’s attaching Jesus.


Are Your Actions Speaking Louder Than Your Words?


They would say, I follow Jesus, but common sense has the final say for each step I take along the way. I’ve brought Jesus into my current life, and I am in general agreement with the direction that Jesus has taken me, that someone who has attached Jesus. Now what? We say it like that. No, but maybe our actions speak louder than our words. Now, let’s flip that and look at someone who has a kingdom perspective.

I’ve abandoned my current life and I’ve followed Jesus into a new way of thinking and behaving. I’m taking specific steps to follow Jesus, and I cannot take those steps without him.


Is Jesus an Add-On to Your Life, an Attachment? Or Is He the Reason?


If he’s the reason and things are going to look different, I’m going to treat people differently. I’m going to be different. I’m going to act differently. I’m going to speak differently.

I’m going to live differently with Jesus as an add-on to my life. I will follow him as long as it’s convenient or as long as it’s easier, as long as I’m getting something out of it. But the second it gets hard, I’m able to switch gears without much thought. And if you wonder why there’s this huge mass exodus that it seems from the church, it’s because we have a lot of people who have attached Jesus to their life and not a lot of people who’ve made Jesus the source of their life.


As Long as Jesus Is Answering My Prayers The Way I Think He Should, I’m Good


But what happens when things start going a little awry, a little off? That brings us to the crucial question for every professing or potential follower of Jesus. This is the question I want to leave you with. And I really hope and pray that these words will be on your mind as you walk through your week.


Do We Really Believe Jesus is Worth Abandoning Everything For?


Ready? There it is. Do we really believe Jesus is worth abandoning everything for? I hope those words will echo in your mind this week. Do we really believe Jesus is worth abandoning everything for? Do we really believe that Jesus is so good, so satisfying and so rewarding that we will leave all that we have even if we and even all we think is not just all we have, but all we think we are to find our fullness in Him?


Do We Believe Him Enough to Obey Him and to Follow Him Wherever He Leads?


Even when the crowds in our culture and maybe even if our churches decide to go in a different direction. If we do, then, as we said earlier, we need to commit. To believe whatever Jesus says as a Christian, it is a mistake to come to Jesus and say, let me hear what you have to say and then I’ll decide whether I’m going to follow you or not, or whether I like it or not.

If you approach Jesus this way, you will never truly hear what He has to say to you. In fact, in a lot of ways, you have to say yes to Jesus words before you even hear them. If we believe that Jesus is the son of God and He is, then His words are true no matter what I think about them, right? I’ve said it before. There’s that saying. God said it. I believe it.


We Have Got to Make a Decision


That settles it. That’s so wrong. God said it. That settles it doesn’t really matter if I believe it or not. It’s still the truth. We have got to make the decision. God said it. I’m going to do it even if it doesn’t make me look cool, even if it doesn’t fulfill my happiness at the moment, even if it seems strange to the world around me. I’m going to do it because he said it’s no matter what.

We need to commit to believing whatever Jesus says, but not just that. We need to commit to obey what we’ve heard. This is the litmus test, isn’t it? I mean, this is what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, it’s not those that say, Lord, Lord. It’s those that do that are going to inherit the kingdom. It’s not about those that just kind of go through the motions. It’s about those who really are obedient.


How Do You Respond to Jesus Calling?


Those are the ones who are building their house in the right place. You see, the gospel of Jesus Christ does not prompt you to simply think about or even meditate on what has been said. The church has done a really good job of thinking about and studying and talking about what Jesus has said, but the proof is in the response, right? It’s when we actually go do it and the process of hearing Jesus through the word of God. You are compelled to take an honest look at your life, your family, your church, and not just ask, what is He saying?


What Am I Going to Do with Jesus?


We need to ask. What am I going to do? Because of what I just read. What am I going to do with Jesus? It’s the question that Pilate asked as he comes before the crowds and they and he presents Jesus to them. Do you remember this? He says, hey, here’s Jesus, I’m going to let him go. They say, no, we don’t want Him. We want the murderer, we want the insurrectionist.

We want Barabbas! Then the question of questions, will, what shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? Nailed and crucify Him, what will we yell? But yeah. If we believe Jesus is worth abandoning everything for and if I ask for a show of hands, my guess is Abraham in this room will go up because I know you and I know your heart and I know your longing and your desire to be all that grace would have you believe.


Why You Got to Commit to Believing, and Obeying Jesus?


But listen, if He’s worth abandoning everything, then we have to commit to believe whatever Jesus says, even the hard stuff. And not only that, we need to commit to obey even the hard stuff. Because that’s the life, the life of impact. That’s the life that you’re waiting for and longing for and you don’t even know it yet. That’s what God’s call of us is all about. Commit to believing, commit to obeying. Let’s speak up for Jesus us, believe it.

Let’s live it, let’s be about His business. Let’s walk the path that He’s laid out in front of us, wherever it leads. Grateful that you’re here tonight, we’re going to sing a song here in just a second. It’s an invitation song. You can come down here if you so desire, if you’d like prayers, if you’d like to commit your life to Jesus, not just to believe in Him, but to obey Him and to follow Him.


We Want to Be That Church That Helps You Take The Next Step With Jesus


We stand ready to help you in any way that we can tonight. We want to be that church, a church that helps you take the next step with Jesus. That’s all we want to be. Whatever that next step for you is. We want to be that church. So let us help you and that way you help us. That way we support one another. We hold each other up. We’re there for each other.

We become this family that God would have us be. If we can help you in that way, we invite you to come. Life is short. Death is certain and eternity is long. And where you spend eternity is going to be determined by if you believe in Jesus and if you obey Him. And so will you? That’s the question I leave with you.


Let’s Stand And Sing

Lay Your Burden Down

Lay your burden down, every care you carry, and come to the table of grace, for there is mercy.

Come just as you are, we are all unworthy to enter the presence of God, for He is Holy.

Lift up your heart, lift up your hands. Fall on your knees and pray.

For the King of Kings and the love He brings is here in this place.

We raise our voices, raise our song, offer Him our praise.

For the King of Kings and the love He brings is here in this place.

Lay your burden down, every care you carry, and come to the table of grace, for there is mercy.


Come Just as You Are

Come just as you are, we are all unworthy to enter the presence of God, for He is Holy.

Lift up your heart, lift up your hands. Fall on your knees and pray.

For the King of Kings and the love He brings is here in this place.

We raise our voices, raise our song, offer Him our praise.

For the King of Kings and the joy He brings is here in this place.

For the King of Kings and the joy He brings is here, He is here in this place.


Victory in Jesus

I heard an old, old story. How a Savior came from glory. How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me.

I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood atoning. Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.

Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me ad bought me with His redeeming blood.

He loved me, ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him. He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.


Let Us Pray

Our most gracious heavenly Father, we’re thankful for the blessings of the day, for the opportunities together. With our fellow Christians and worship and the opportunity that we had to remember. Our Lord Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, for the opportunity He gave us. We asked you would help each of us who love you, as we should love our neighbors. As we should, and to follow the teachings you have given us to follow in our daily lives.

We ask that you would be with us now as we depart. Give us a fruitful way. Help us to always serve you in our daily lives. Forgive us when we see these things we ask this in Jesus’ name.