Read Matthew 12:1-14 and Matthew 22:34-40
The Pharisees, the religious leaders of Jesus day, were more concerned
with man-made laws than they were with God's laws. They were upset
that Jesus' disciples picked grain on the Sabbath and that Jesus
healed a man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees didn't understand that God
had set the Sabbath day apart for their own rest and refreshing. But
instead the Pharisees made up extra laws to try and teach the Israelites how
to keep the Sabbath day holy. Some of these extra laws were ridiculous if
not impossible to keep. In fact, one of the man-made laws said that if
you spit on the ground and created a furrow in the sand, it would be
considered farming, which is work, and therefore a sin.
The Pharisees wanted to turn the crowds away from
Jesus. They were hoping to trick him into saying the wrong thing by
asking him which commandment was the greatest. But Jesus knew what
they were doing. He understood the purpose and the intent of the
commandments. Jesus responded to the Pharisees by summarizing the entire Ten Commandments into two major
categories: Loving God and Loving Others. This had always been at the
heart of the commandments, yet the Pharisees missed the point.
The Pharisees didn't understand that the commandments
were an expression of how God loves and
cares for his children. For example, Why shouldn't we worship idols? Because God is
the only true God and idols are powerless to hear us and help us. Why
shouldn't we steal? Because God shall supply all our needs
according to his riches in glory. Why should we keep the
Sabbath Day holy? Because God knows we need our rest to do our
best to love and serve him.
We can make a similar mistake that the Pharisees
made by thinking that some of the commandments are not as important as
the others. For example, coveting doesn't seem as bad as adultery, or
murder doesn't seem as bad lying. But this would be equally wrong to
assume. God says that if we stumble at any point in the law, we are
guilty of breaking the entire law. (James 2:10) The bad news is that
we cannot be good enough, or try hard enough to win God's favor. The
good news is that Jesus died on the cross to take the
punishment for our sins so we can be forgiven.
Now, let's arrange the Commandments in the order
that they are actually listed in Scripture.
(Exodus 20:1-17) While we do this, notice that the first
four commandments fit into the
"Loving God" category, and
the remaining six commandments fit into the "Loving Others"
1. Have no other gods.
2. Don't worship idols.
3. Don't misuse God's name.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day, Keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Don't murder.
7. Don't commit adultery.
8. Don't steal.
9. Don't lie.
10. Don't crave what others have.
Optional: Have the students make a Ten Commandments
paper chain. Staple the paper strip with the first commandment closed,
then loop the second commandment through the first, and so on until
all ten are looped together.
Sarah A. Keith
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