These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Matthew 22:34-46 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Teaching Points
I. The Greatest Commandment (34-39)
II. Messiah is descended from David, but greater than David (40-45)
I. The Greatest Commandment (34-39)
Can you remember the differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees?
Why did the Pharisees ask this question?
Was their goal to learn something new or important from Jesus?
How might they have sought to trap Jesus with this question?
Where is this commandment found in the Old Testament?
What are you observations about this commandment?
How can you demonstrate love for God who is untouchable and cannot be seen?
In this context what does the word “Lord” mean? What does this show about our relationship with God?
How about the word “your?” In what way is God “your God?”
How do you love God with ALL of heart, soul and mind? Can you give any examples of what loving God with only part might look like?
Are there any differences between heart, soul, and mind? Why do you think all three are emphasized here?
The heart is the center of our thought life:
Jeremiah 4:14, Matthew 15:19
The spirit or the soul is your essence, which will exist even beyond your body’s death:
Genesis 2:7, Mark 8:37
Our mind could be our conscience
Titus 1:15, Ephesians 4:23
1. The Pharisees did not give up easily. The Sadducees and Herodians failed in their attempts to trap Jesus, but the Pharisees decided to give it one more shot. Their question appears much more simple than the others. And yet it is not so simple. There are thousands of commands in the Old Testament. Obviously all of them are good and important. If Jesus chose any one of these commands as being the most important he ran the risk of alienating many groups who valued other commands more. Think of a similar question like this “which member of your family do you love the most?” Such “ranking” questions are difficult to answer because if you are not careful in how you answer you may seriously offend people. So while the Pharisees’ question was more open ended than the others, it was nonetheless like a mine field that could have gotten Jesus in serious trouble.
2. So was it difficult for Jesus? Indeed, no. He navigates it with ease. The very toughest questions the brightest thinkers of the Jewish leaders could throw at Him were like child’s play to Jesus. His teaching was filled with power and authority unlike anything they had ever seen.
3. His answer is telling them one commandment that summarizes or encompasses all of the other commands, to love God above everything else. If you love God, you will keep the Sabbath. If you love God, you will not make idols. If you love God, you will bring sacrifices. If you love God, you will worship Him. And so on. But Jesus does not end there. He tosses in a special “buy one answer get one free deal.” And so He gives them the second greatest command. This one was much like the first for it summarizes or encompasses all of the commands that deal with how we are to treat other people. If you love your neighbor, you will not covet his stuff. If you love your neighbor, you will not steal his stuff. If you love your neighbor, you will not lie to him. If you love your neighbor, you will return his wayward ox. And so on.
So we learn that the most important principle in all the Bible about our dealings with God and others is love. Paul noted this in 1 Corinthians 13 when he commented that the three most important principles are faith, hope, and love “and the greatest of these is love.”
4. Let’s dig into the fine points of this verse:
Love. In the Bible love is action. Jesus told His disciples that if they loved Him they would obey His commands. At the same time if we love God we should want to spend time with Him. We should want to talk with Him (by prayer). We should want to deepen our relationship with Him by spending quality time learning about Him and reading His “letters” to us in the Bible. These are things that you would do if you love a person.
The Lord – A Lord is a Master, the Head. It means that we must submit ourselves to God as our Lord. This goes further than just confessing there is a God. Satan himself believes that God exists. But he is unwilling to submit to His authority. Calling God the Lord of our lives means that we are willing to submit ourselves to Him in every area of our life no matter how difficult or how contrary to our own desires.
Your God – The word “your” is very important. It denotes a relationship. God is not just a nebulous force. He is personal. And He wants to have a relationship with you. He is God of everything whether or not people accept or admit Him. But people themselves set up all kinds of false gods and idols. These are the gods which they are serving. These are the gods which they are pursuing. What are some examples of things people make into gods today? We can have a personal relationship with God. First we must admit He exists. Second, we must say, “I want to follow you. I want you to live in my heart and guide everything I do.”
With all – So many people want to serve God sometimes in some areas with some of their energy. They serve God when it is convenient, when it lines up with what they already want to do themselves, or when it feels good to do so. It is very easy to compartmentalize our lives. We may separate our life at church from our life at work and appear quite differently. Here is another example, many people do and say things online from behind the anonymity of their computers which they would never dare to do in real life. Some of these things include extreme rudeness to other people hurling insults from their keyboard and behind their username. Others include watching things on their computer while alone in their room which they would immediately turn off if others walked in. Brothers and sisters, this type of behavior is not loving God will ALL. If you know there are some areas in your life which you are not putting God first, you must sacrifice those desires and pleasures and sins on the alter of worship and say “God, you are my God and I will love you with ALL that I am.”
Heart, soul, and mind – See cross-references. The heart and mind could be quite similar to each other. Some make distinction that the heart is more about the emotions of a person and the mind is more the logic. Other say the heart is the brain and the mind is akin to our moral conscience. I would like to point out that it is not necessary to quibble about the exact meanings.
For Hebrews they often used multiple words or phrases to emphasize the same idea. It was a way of reiterating the importance of something. For a Hebrew to say “heart, soul, and mind” is a way of saying, “with EVERY part of you” and “this is important.” You should love God with your hands, your feet, your eyes, your thoughts, your dreams, you verbal expressions, non-verbal expressions, attitudes, countenance, emotions, logics, goals, philosophies, rationality, consciousness, sub-consciousness and you should do it at home, at work, on the subway, on your bicycle and in the pool. You should love Him when you are healthy or sick, when you are poor or rich, when you are hungry or filled, when your in the midst of trials or everything is going smoothly. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, January, February…. Etc. Do you get the point? The point is simple. Love God with All you are all the time. If there is any other situation or circumstance or part of you missing, love God with that to. This means we must not separate some part of our lives to ourselves as “our own.” We must put God first in every area. Sounds easy, right?
5. And love your neighbors as yourselves – Perhaps some of you think loving God like that is easy. Well, here comes one that could be even harder. After all, God is perfect, but the people around us? Not so perfect. How could we love those people? And yet that is the instruction we are given. See Philippians 2:3-5.
Application: Talk for a while with your group about how to apply the above verses. You can let them write down ways they can love God and the people around them. Or you can let them discuss ways they think they currently are falling short. Or they can share examples of times when they have seen others doing well in these areas.
II. Messiah is descended from David, but greater than David (40-45)
Now whose turn was it to ask a question?
Why do you think Jesus asked them this question?
What point does He want them to recognize?
In what way was the Messiah the Son of David?
In what way was the Messiah “Lord” or greater than David?
Did the Pharisees think of the Messiah as human only or divine only or both?
If the Messiah is the son of David is he human (yes)?
If the Messiah is greater than David (the greatest of all the Israelite kings), then what inference can we make about the Messiah?
So what aspect of the Messiah’s nature was Jesus bringing out to the Pharisees?
What can we learn from Jesus about the Word of God? What can see about Jesus’ attitude toward the Word of God, even seemingly obscure details?
1. Jesus in return asked the Pharisees a question. His goal was to get them to think about the exact nature of the Messiah.
2. Jesus demonstrated a deep understanding of and respect for the Scriptures. He makes a very important argument about the Messiah’s nature from a fairly obscure Old Testament detail. From this we can see the attitude Jesus had toward Scripture. It should inspire us to be faithful students of the Word.
3. The logic of this argument Jesus was making is fairly simple:
David was the most important king (the highest position in the country) in Israel’s history.
The Messiah is in fact the Son of David, meaning he is descended from David. The Messiah must be human.
David calls him “Lord” showing that He is greater than David. The inference is the Messiah is divine.
More to come soon
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