Matthew 22:34-46 Part 3


In the intimidating presence of the entire Sanhedrin the legal scholar engages Jesus for the purpose of debate; the attempt being one in which the Jewish leadership regains its authoritative position before these huge crowds in the temple.

The issue which is the focus of the questioning concerns that smallest section, or type, of the Law upon which all of the essential provisions of the Torah and the Talmud and the Midrashim depend.

But Jesus will not be “put to the proof” by these alien seed; instead, He authoritatively affirms Moses’ words from Deuteronomy chapter six and Leviticus chapter nineteen:


“You shall love the Lord your God in your whole heart, in your whole person, and in your whole mind.  This is the first, and great, Commandment.  Second, and similar to it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”


The first, and great, Commandment is a summary of the first four Commandments in the Decalogue; and the second (similar to it) is a summary of the last six.  The first four Commandments contain the elements of man’s entire duty to God; and the last six contain all the elements of man’s entire duty to man.  Therefore, the ten Commandments is, itself, a summary of the entire Law of God.  And the Law is the Revelation to man of the very character of God Himself!

But to the fallen and cursed man, what is the effect of the verbal Revelation of the character of God?  According to Paul it is agitated rebellion and extreme enmity and provocation to sin!  To cursed, Adamic humanity, the holiness and goodness and perfection of the Law is, in itself, a curse!

And the ultimate effect of the curse of the Law upon fallen humanity is death, eternal damnation and separation from God.  The character of God revealed in His holy Law is the standard by which every human creature is judged!  And all who are born into this world, without respect of persons, are dead in sin and stand under the crushing curse of God’s Holy Law!

But, the Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to those who are believing (faithing).  The Gospel. What is it?  What is the power of God unto salvation?  What is it that gives man access into the glorious presence of God?  What is it that provides us acceptance from God?

Is it man’s “acceptance” of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?  (Is that what gives us access into the Throne room of God?)  Is it Jesus’ coming into our hearts?  Is it Jesus giving us His righteousness, making us righteous as He is righteous?  Is it our repentance and asking Jesus to take over our lives?  Is it our “belief”?  (There’s the key, right?  When we exercise “belief”… that’s what sets us free and gives us access to a holy God…) is that true?  False!!

The whole of Scripture declares that man is cursed and dead and at enmity with God and under His eternal wrath; His holy Law (the Revelation of His character) is repugnant to man and provokes us to rebellion and sin and death!  So what, precisely, is it that propitiates God; what is it that reconciles Him to man; what is it that gives cursed, depraved sinners access to His holy presence?  The Gospel?  The perfect Law of God curses and provokes and kills us in our condition – What overturns that?

Matthew wrote the Gospel, which we’ve been hearing preached now for over five years; so did Mark, Luke and John.  Paul and the others wrote inspired letters concerning the Gospel… that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second Person of our Triune God emptied Himself and took the form of man (humanity) and was born of a virgin; He lived in perfect submission and obedience to His Father; He suffered terribly at the hands of the elders and priests and scribes of Israel, and under Pontius Pilate; He was judged by them as unworthy to live and hanged on a tree until dead; He was buried and descended into hades (the place of death); He arose from death, having defeated it, and ascended to the right hand of God the Father; and all Power in Heaven and Earth was given to Him – a Kingdom!

That’s the Gospel.  And the Gospel is the Power of God unto salvation….  The historical account of what Jesus did!  It is the Word of God concerning His Son!

What is it that gives fallen, cursed, dead men access to a holy God?  Your belief?  Your faith?  Your acceptance?  Your confession?  Your repentance?  NO!!  It is what Jesus did!  The Gospel of God concerning His Son is the Power of God into salvation….

The wrath and curse of God upon mankind is propitiated (satisfied) by the work of Christ; the curse of the Law of God is overturned (nullified) by the work of Christ.  Jesus Christ, God’s Son, (perfect humanity) was hanged on a tree and became accursed of God… a perfect Ransom to nullify the curse of the Law!  And Perfect Humanity arose out of death and entered the very Presence of God the Father to receive Power and glory and a Kingdom!  And there is the access to a holy God which is absolutely required by fallen, cursed, dead humanity!  It’s what Jesus did!  And that’s the Gospel!

And now if you’ll look at your printed text, at verse forty, you’ll see these very things implied, as Jesus completes His affirmation of the Law and then directs His questioning of them concerning the Christ!

And remember, when we read it, that these elders and priests of Israel, and their forefathers, are the very ones who have added hundreds of laws to God’s Law, detracted from it, used it for their advantage, misinterpreted it, turned it upside down, and manipulated it for their own aggrandizement!  And, still, the Law (mutilated) was considered their connection to and access to God.

Now.  Here’s what Jesus says at verse forty, as you look on your copy:


“…In these two Commandments the whole Law hangs; and the prophets.”


The whole Law – the Commandments and the case Law, the sanctions for obedience and the sanctions for disobedience – and the prophets, which is the explication, in history, of the Law and its sanctions… this is the Word of God, the “fullness” of which is Jesus Christ.

It “hangs” in these two Commandments.  That which is a curse upon dead, fallen mankind… that Revelation of the character of God which drives men to rebellion and enmity and death… that which curses men by potentiating his sin and making it “exceedingly sinful” – “hangs” in these two Commandments?

What does Jesus mean when He uses this very strange word “hangs”?  “In these two Commandments the whole Law hangs, and the prophets.”  If all that this means is that these two summarize the Law and the prophets, then the word “hangs” is strangely out of place!  What need would Jesus have for pulling a very rare word from the lexicon of possibilities if all He meant was that all of the Law was “in” these two Commandments?  (Which is it?)

Modern fundamentalism would say that the Old Testament Law has been dispensationally abrogated; and that the Law of God has been replaced now by the law of love.  Then, if that’s the case, why doesn’t Jesus just say the whole Law is now concluded in these two Commandments?  Why does He say “in these two Commandments the whole Law … ‘hangs’”?

Well, the word wasn’t chosen “at random” from a group of available words, was it?  Jesus didn’t flip through the “thesaurus” of His mind and react joyfully when He found one He hadn’t used previously!  And He didn’t just “say” the first thing that came to Him.  There’s no random thought here, and no intent to impress people with His vocabulary!

But the word is unique!  And in what is “normally” thought to be the context, there’s just no proper use for it!  It just doesn’t fit!  Unless the definition of the word is completely changed (arbitrarily) it doesn’t make sense!  And that’s exactly what’s been done.  It’s been changed arbitrarily.

In a completely arbitrary manner, this word has been made to mean “dependance upon”… so that when the verse is read, it sounds like this:  “on these two Commandments the whole Law depends.”  But, you see, in the rare places in Scripture in which this word occurs, this is the only place where it’s interpreted like that.  And the only reason for that happening is in order to make it fit a preconceived idea about the Law!

And that preconceived idea is that the Law has now been abrogated in favor of love!  But there’s not even a hint of that anywhere in the Scriptures.  And especially is that true in this particular context where the subject has to do with the curse of the Law in opposition to the Pharisee’s idea of access to God by the Law!  On the one hand God says in His Word that all mankind is cursed by the Law; on the other hand the Pharisees hold that they have access to a holy God by the Law!  How in the world would one ever fit into that context any idea of the Law’s abrogation!?

But let me read to you two passages of Scripture which will allow us to understand this word “hangs”, and what Jesus’ intent is here.  Here is the great “power” of the Word of God – even in subtlety.

Deuteronomy twenty-one at verse twenty-two:


“And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he is to be put to death, and you hang him on a tree; his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that your land be not defiled, which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.”


Now, this doesn’t imply hanging by the neck with a rope.  It means impaled on a stake or nailed to a piece of wood, or a tree.  But the point is that “he that is hanged is accursed of God”!  So the Law of God (and its curse) is prophetic of the Christ and His crucifixion!

And now this passage from Paul in Galatians chapter three, as he quotes from Deuteronomy:


“For as many as are from the works of the Law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them.’

“But that no man is justified by the Law in the sight of God is evident; for, ‘the just shall live through faith!’  And the Law is not from faith; but, ‘the man that does them shall live in them.’  Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, ‘Cursed is every man that hangs on a tree.’


Here is the Gospel from Moses and from Paul.  Jesus Christ, the perfect Law-keeper, came under the crushing curse of the Law as our substitute; and He was accursed of God, being hung on a tree!  Because fallen mankind is under the curse of the Law and therefore can’t have access to God by the Law, Jesus Christ became sin and was accursed of God for us.  The Law-keeper was hanged on a tree and cursed of God in our place!  That’s the Gospel, and that’s what gives mankind access to God!

And that’s the word that Jesus uses here in verse forty.  And the obvious implication is that the leadership of Israel has no access to God.  They are under the curse of the Law, and they’ve broken God’s covenant and come under the full weight of the Law’s sanctions!

Bu there is one Who has loved Yahveh Elohim in His whole heart, in His whole self and in His whole mind; and His neighbor as Himself.  Therefore He has kept the whole Law and the prophets.  He is the fullness of the Law which is summarized in the Great Commandment.  But He will “hang” accursed of God – the implication being that these men have already planned to hang him on a tree.

He is Christ – the Anointed One of God, God’s Son.  The One elect of His Father to become accursed.  The One chosen to overturn the curse of the Law.

In Moses’ account of the Genesis, chapter twenty-two verse thirteen, Abraham had received instructions to travel, with Isaac, to the mountain which God would show him.  And upon finding it Abraham was to sacrifice his only son upon the holy mountain.

After making all the preparations, and with great hope for the Resurrection of his son, God stopped him from doing the deed.  For off in the distance there was a “ram” that was caught by its horns in the thicket.

It was not Isaac who was to be sacrificed and resurrected, but there was to be a substitute for Isaac and for Abraham and for all God’s people to come – many peoples and many nations.  And Abraham was to be their father in the covenant.  As the apostle Paul later says, that covenant seed is mankind in Christ – a new humanity not under the curse of the Law!

Now, there are a few of the many ancient translations that use Jesus’ word “hanged’ in this passage of Scripture.  So in place of the ram being “caught” in the thicket, the ram was “hanged” in the thicket!  Regardless of which translation is correct, there are men of God who saw the connection between our passage this morning, the One accursed and hanging on a tree in the Law of Moses, and the substitute ram for Isaac’s life.  And all three places absolutely point to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  And there, accomplished for us in history, is our access into the very Presence of God our Father.

Then, Jesus, in verse forty-two, with all the implications of what He had just said, assumes the authoritative position with the Sanhedrin and questions them concerning the Christ.


“What does it seem to you concerning the Christ?  Whose Son is He?”


As we come to public worship this morning, what does it seem to you concerning the Christ?  Is He God’s Son Who satisfied the wrath of God toward His people; is He God’s Son Who ransomed God’s people from Divine judgment and eternal punishment; is He God’s Son Who became the accursed One – hanging on a tree; is He God’s perfect Son Who nullified the curse of the Law by becoming sin; is He God’s Son Who received the stroke as a substitute sacrifice?

Does your confession have to do with you?  Does your confession have to do with your “acceptance” of Jesus?  Is it your confession that Jesus lives in your heart?  Is your confession that you’re a “good person”, and that you have “faith”?  Or is it your confession that your “access to God” is by obedience to Law?  Or, finally, does your confession include some idea that there is no more Law; and that you now have love for God and love for you neighbor…?

Love for God and for neighbor is a good thing!  Submission and obedience to God’s Word is a good thing!  Confession and repentance and faithing are good things!  Putting sin out of your life is a good thing!  These are all “confirmations” of God’s grace and mercy to mankind.

But what is the Gospel?  “The Gospel of God concerning HIS SON is the power of God into salvation….”  You have no access to a holy God by what you do.  You have no access to God by how you feel.  You have no access to God by “accepting” Him, or “claiming” Him!

The curse of God on humanity was satisfied by what JESUS did!  In Him we were co-crucified with Him; in Him we were co-buried with Him; in Him we were co-resurrected with Him; and in Him we are co-ascended to the Father with Him.  He was hanged – accursed – on a tree in order to satisfy God’s wrath toward us.  That’s the Gospel.  And there is the hope of your salvation.