Matthew 22:34-40: “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (NIV).
The passage goes on to speak of questions Jesus asks the Pharisees, but at the end we read, “from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions”(v.46).
As a lover of good questions, I am finding myself suddenly unable to decide how I feel about this… Maybe the issue is that the Sadducees and Pharisees didn’t ask good questions. Questions should, indeed, provoke thought and dialogue. I have to admit that sometimes I ask questions to which I already know the answers, simply for the sake of great conversation (and this tactic also serves to inform others who might be unwilling or unable to ask the questions, themselves). The Sadducees and Pharisees didn’t have the same intent. They wanted to test Jesus… to try him… to trip him up. And from that we received the simplest, and yet the most difficult, commandment to follow.
Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself.
Everything else will turn out alright.
There’s not anything we can say to argue against this, although some will try. And so here I sit thinking about the silences that come from being astonished. David offers some insight that relates, in Psalm 39:2-5: “So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased; my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: ‘Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure” (NIV).
Let me know how fleeting my life is…
One of my favorite questions has become, “Now What?”
The straightforward answer to that is easier and easier, every time I ask it.
There is no time for anything less.
Psalm 36:9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (NIV).
May we also be light, bringing life…
Maybe it’s the last answer we needed…