Throughout Christ’s ministry on earth, one of the favorite activities of the religious leaders of the day was to test Him. These tests were not usually good-hearted discussion points, but were rather attempts to trap Christ and prove that He was a liar and blasphemer. One of the more famous accounts is found in Matthew 22, where both major Jewish groups were shooting questions at Christ one after another. 22: 34-40 records a series of tests that the Pharisees aimed against Christ to try and trap him from the Law of the Old Testament. After being tested by the Sadducees, the Pharisees come and ask him the question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Christ responds: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” The Pharisees seek to trap Jesus by asking him a fairly basic question. Just pick one of the ten, right? It’s a multiple choice question with seemingly no wrong answer. This was one of those “pick the best answer” questions that you may remember from school. The problem is that the Pharisees are not actually looking for Christ’s opinion; they are looking to trap him. Arguments could be made for the importance of each of the Ten Commandments, so how could Christ choose just one? His answer is surprising, because he actually does pick just one, but sums up the Law in His answer. He placed each of the Ten Commandments into two categories relating to either God or man, all centered around love. The first and great commandment says to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. This first answer actually does address their question, because man’s ultimate responsibility is to God. This is the great commandment in the Law, which sums up all of the Commandments relating to God. Christ then ads a bonus answer. The second commandment is similar to the first in that it also sums up a large part of the Law, except this time it relates to man. We are responsible to love our neighbor as ourselves, which might be one of the most used verses in Scripture. This is not the great commandment, but is similar to the first in scope. In these two commandments we are given the moral standards for how we treat God and man. Both are summed up in love, and it points us back to the Law so we can determine how exactly we do love God and our neighbor. A lot of people wrongly use this verse to say that “all we need is love” (or some similar sentiment), so in order to know what exactly love means here, we must go back to the source. The Pharisees knew full well what the commandments were and how they related to Christ’s answer. “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” In order to fully know what these two commandments mean, we need to go back to the Law and the Prophets. This is something that is missed by most people today because they are so used to the summations. Most teaching says that we don’t need the Law and Prophets (Old Testament) because we are given all we need in the new, and they use this verse as an example. This text, however, apart from the Old Testament, would leave us in a very confusing spot. What does it actually mean to love God and to love man? We are not told by Christ explicitly, so we often inject our own ideas about what love means. The idea of love here actually makes us go back and read the Law and Prophets, because it is what they say that actually tells us how we ARE to love God and man. We do the things in the Law for love’s sake. The summation is useful, but only in the proper context, and when the source material is well known. Like the Pharisees, we should know our Scriptures well, but unlike the Pharisees, we need to acknowledge and trust in Christ for our salvation. The Pharisees ask him a simple question to test him, but the answer He gives is far more profound than they were expecting, building from the Law that they knew so well.