Today is Tuesday of Holy Week, and this is a day that Jesus spent teaching. He went to the Temple and taught so many things. These teachings are recorded in several of the Gospel’s but Matthew’s is most extensive and can be found in Matthew 21-24. Here are some of the things that He says.
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42 “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
45 If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 46 No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. 28 So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you, desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Much of what Jesus is dealing with is the dismantling of the Pharisees and Sadducees. These were the religious leaders of the day and they opposed Jesus, sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of power, sometimes out of a misunderstanding of scripture. But they were always at odds with Jesus.
So what Jesus does today is through His teaching, He takes the truth of the Old Testament, He takes the truth of the Laws and the teachings and says, look. You are missing the point. You may be able to quote the Law and Scriptures, but you are missing the point of them.
Because you miss the point, you look holy, because you can quote the scriptures and the law, but you are not acting holy. You are not living holy. You are not holy.
So, then, what does it mean to be holy? Jesus tells us what all the law, all the Old Testament, everything, it comes down this. He tell us in 22:34-40:
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Everything. Everything. All the teachings of the Bible. All the teachings of the Old Testament. All the teachings of the Law. All the traditions we hold dear. Everything, everything, everything comes down to this.
Love. Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love.
All the teachings, all the wisdom, everything, they are shown in love. That is the message that Jesus came to share with His words and the victory He came to win with His death and resurrection.
And that was the message the teachers of the law never got. Because while they could quote the law, they never understood the law.
Today, as believers, may we not make the mistake that they did. May we focus not as much on “quoting” the Bible as we do in living the Bible. Because that’s where holiness really comes from. For a converted heart, filled with God’s love, seeking to love others as God has loved us.