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The Two Ultimate Questions, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
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September 29, 2021 7:05 am

The Two Ultimate Questions, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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September 29, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Commission: A Study of Matthew 21–28

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On several occasions in the book of Matthew, the writer recounts dramatic clashes between the religious leaders and Jesus. These unsavory standoffs have a way of exposing the ill intent of the Pharisees and Sadducees while at the same time demonstrating the conviction and compassion of Jesus. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll is teaching for Matthew chapter 22. In this passage, the Pharisees posed two very complicated scenarios attempting to catch Jesus off guard. Well, Jesus responded with a few questions of his own.

Chuck titled today's message, the two ultimate questions. Which is a record of Matthew's account of the life of Jesus. As all of you know, there were four who wrote of Jesus' life, commonly referred to in theological works as the evangelists. Mark was the first to write, and he writes of Jesus as a servant. And then Luke or Matthew, it's debatable who wrote next.

Luke writes of Jesus as man, Matthew as the king, and John writes of him as God, his deity. So we look into the kingly gospel when we look at Matthew, and we're finishing this 22nd chapter beginning at verse 33. Matthew 22 verse 33.

I'll be reading from the New Living Translation. When the Pharisees heard him, they were astounded at his teaching. But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question. The law of Moses. Jesus replied, you must know the Lord your God with all your heart. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.

The second is equally important, love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question. What do you think about the Messiah?

Whose son is he? They replied, he's the son of David. Jesus responded, then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah my Lord? For David said, the Lord said to my Lord, sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet. Since David called the Messiah my Lord, how can the Messiah be his son? No one could answer him.

And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. Isn't that great? I want to go yes. I want to get to the end of that yes.

A great moment. But Jesus doesn't. He lets it land hard on their hearts. You're listening to Insight for Living.

To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled, The Two Ultimate Questions. The best questions in life are not asked to be answered. They're asked to make us think. To make us think deeply. Great questions force us to probe deep within our own soul.

And rather than rushing around for an answer, we search the meaning of the question and realize that it is examining us, which is the best part about a great question. Socrates was said to have been wise, not because he had all the right answers, but because he knew how to ask the right questions. I think back over my years when I was privileged to have mentors that I've now pretty much outlived.

And except for one who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. And as I think back over the best teachers in my life, most of whom have gone on. I realize they were great mentors and great teachers, never because they gave me the list on how they've lived their lives and therefore I should live like they lived, but they knew how to ask me the probing questions.

Those questions that forced me to think, to wonder, to confess, to acknowledge. I remember sitting in the registrar's office at Dallas Seminary on a hot summer day in 1959, it was. I had gotten out of the Marine Corps in April and so I was just months out, still had a flat top.

Didn't everybody in, back in 59? And I, well, men had the flat top. And Cynthia was sitting beside me in a beautiful white suit and I was facing a man who had the authority as to whether I would be admitted or not as a student. And I came to that meeting having completed the written exams that were a part of that process. But I had not had this, I would call it more of an oral exam where we probed some things in my life and Dr. Don Campbell was the registrar at the time. I remember looking at me over the top of his glasses and saying to me, making a question out of the statement, Chuck, would you be happy and fulfilled doing anything other than ministry for the rest of your life?

Now that is a question. 1959, I was 25, years of my life in front of me. I had a good job in Houston, could return to it, would experience promotions and go on living a rather simple and secure life, fairly predictable. Or I could enter a whole new realm, what we call now another career, and in a world of information that I was not that familiar with, that I must work hard to learn and give myself to, well anyway, my answer after thinking on it, I must have stared at him blinking 15 to 20 seconds and I said to him, no, I wouldn't be fulfilled or happy doing anything else. He frowned and said, we will be in touch with you.

Okay, I thought that's it. Really, I had no way of knowing what the decision was and they accepted me on probation. Praise God. I was accepted and I quickly became the lawn man and that's how I made a little money while I was a student. And I poured myself into the studies of theology and Greek and church history and Bible exposition and on and on until finally by the end of that first year, he called me back into his office and said, we're going to keep you as a student.

And I believe I walked out with tears, grateful. He said, by the way, if you had answered any other way back when I asked you that question, we would never have accepted you. I was really glad that I answered, no, I wouldn't be happy and fulfilled. What a question. Asking a 25 year old young man sitting beside his wife, no children, the whole future stretched out in front of him.

Would you be happy the rest of your life doing this? I thought of that question many, many times. The answer is still the same. I'm reading right now, three days in January, Dwight Eisenhower's final mission.

In it I found these words. Every president is peppered with questions, problems and decisions to be made. But the one question Ike always asked was, is it good for America?

That's a president's question. Is this plan I have for immigration good for America? Is my plan for defense good for America? Is the economy that we have underway and the arrangement of things good for America? Is the substructure we are going to rebuild good for America?

Is the way we're going to deal with debt good for America? On and on and on, asking the question that must be answered. I've always loved the title of the book.

It's an old book now, but it's a great title. If Jesus is the answer, what are the questions? The title is designed to make you think, not to come up with quick answers. What are the questions? Why, if you had asked the Sadducees in the days of Jesus, they would have had one set, one set of questions, and they certainly asked them and he put them in their place. Interestingly, in the section we're in today, I find it intriguing that it really begins with answers that they could not question. And ends with questions he asked that they could not answer. In both places, they are silenced.

Which is the best kind of ultimate dialogue, because now everyone is thinking. We read in verse 33, when the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching. Matthew 22, 33. They were astounded, but look at what it says about the Sadducees.

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees. Silenced. Key word.

FIMO. P-H-I-M-O-O. The word means to muzzle. To muzzle. It literally has in mind the idea of forcefully restricting the opening of the mouth. It's used in 1 Corinthians 9, 9 for muscling the mouth of an ox. And in Mark 1, 25, it is used by Jesus when he says to the demon, be quiet and come out of him. Muzzle the demon. Muzzle the ox. In this case, Jesus' words muscled the Sadducees.

That was a rather amazing thing. That's like muscling a group of politicians. I mean, they have nothing more to say. They were the ones you remember who came up with this ludicrous series of, or question that had a series of what ifs in it.

This woman marries this man, he dies, she marries his brother, and then he dies, and she marries the next brother, and then he dies, and he marries the next brother. Well, whose wife is she going to be in heaven, even though they didn't believe in heaven? It wasn't a question they wanted answered.

It was a question they wanted to stump him with, which they couldn't do. Now that they're silent, now that they're muscled, the Pharisees move in with great delight. They never enjoyed the Sadducees that much. As a matter of fact, they only had one thing in common. Both of them despised Jesus. So now that the Pharisees are out of the picture, the Pharisees move in with another question.

And they bring their leading lawyer up to the front. We read of him as the expert in religious law, verse 35. And they tried to trap him. You see the reading in verse 35?

It was purposely designed to trip him up. And they're going to ask him, what's the greatest commandment? Thinking and hoping that he will name one of his commands from his own system of teaching, knowing that there is no greater command than the one Moses left, they're in for a real surprise. They say to him, what is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Without hesitation and with no copy of the scripture in hand, Jesus responds from memory with the words found in Deuteronomy 6, 4 through 9. I want you to hold your place here and go back to Deuteronomy. Turn back to that book of the Old Testament and let's read what Jesus quoted. Chapter 6, verses 4 through 9.

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Let me interrupt here for just a moment and say this is known as the Shema. S-H-E-M-A. It's the verb translated hear or listen.

Hear this. Shema is the word. And when the Jews refer to it, by the way, every pious Jew could quote this and would quote it twice a day. This would be like the essential creed of Judaism. Look at what Moses left. Listen, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

By the way, I hate to keep interrupting, but I see things that are helpful. The Lord is one, your Bible probably reads. It's the Hebrew word echad, echad. You know you've said it right when something lands on the neck of the person in front of you, echad. It's called a guttural, echad. And it means one as in a cluster.

It's used for a cluster of grapes. But in this case, it's one as in a trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit. But you don't see that.

All you see is alone or one when you read it in the English. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is echad. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commandments that I'm giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children.

I love this part. Talk about them when you're at home, when you're on the road, when you're going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.

Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. And by the way, in the homes of pious Jews to this day, you will see those words that have been rolled up in a handwritten scroll and placed in the little piece at the doorway, these words from this essential creed of Judaism. It is the most familiar and the most quoted of all the commands. And Jesus answers it immediately off the top of his head. No doubt he quoted it twice a day.

And I love the fact that he had it memorized. This is the first and greatest commandment. But it doesn't stop there.

He doesn't stop there. He then quotes Leviticus 19, 18. Go from Deuteronomy back to Leviticus chapter 19.

Some of you are staring at me. Go back to Leviticus chapter 19 and locate verse 18. Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord. The end of the verse reads, love your neighbor as yourself. Out of the blue, ask the question Jesus answers, love God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind. This is the first and great commandment and the second is equally important.

Love your neighbor as yourself, the entire law, and all of the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. Wow. How's that for an answer? And it's asked spontaneously. You know, when I study the Bible, I often put myself in the sandals of people who lived in that ancient day and I ask myself, would I have been able to think of that quickly or that incisively?

Probably would not have been able to do that. Often when you're in front of opponents, you don't think clearly and your head gets a little mushy, but Jesus is not at all intimidated by the critics. He answers immediately. You're to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Perfect. Brilliant. Now, we don't read in Matthew's Gospel what the lawyer says in return, but in Mark's Gospel, we do. I won't take time to have you look, but he tells us in Mark 12, in verse 12, kalos didaskale, kalos good didaskale, teacher. Good teacher.

Now, I'm telling you, that's amazing. Here is the critic who is the sharpest among their group, probing Jesus for a question, thinking they're going to trip him, and when Jesus answers the question, the man has to say, that's outstanding. We would say today, right on. Superb answer, teacher. Exactly right.

You've accomplished something when you've not only given an answer to a critic, but you've so impressed the critic with the answer that he says to you, what a great answer. Perfect. By the way, before you get lost in the loving others as you love yourself, because today is a day of all about loving self.

Let me warn you against that. The whole idea is we take care of ourselves. We certainly care about our well-being, and that's a sign of a wholesome and healthy life. But this is not about loving self. This is about loving the Lord and loving others. It's a great time for me to pause and probe you with a question. Do you love God like this?

Does your life reveal that kind of God love? How about others? Others. Or if the truth were known back here, is there a blacklist?

A group of folks that you just really wouldn't mind if you never saw them again? Jesus says, loving God and loving others. I think of the cross, the vertical, loving God, and the horizontal, loving others. We pause in moments like this, having read what Jesus' answer is, and we do a little soul search. It's good for us. My question is a rhetorical question, meaning don't answer out loud.

Search your heart for the true answer. It's a good time for me to warn you about our culture. It's disintegrating, you notice.

Now, your children don't know that, so they'll get caught up in it unless you, as an adult, help them know that it's veering in the wrong direction. We live in confusing times when the narrative seems to revolve around issues that divide us rather than principles that draw us together. Cultural conflict ran rampant in Jesus' day, and we certainly feel the same tension today. You're listening to Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll is teaching from Matthew 22, and he titled today's message The Two Ultimate Questions.

It's a subject that we'll address again on the next program. And to learn more about Chuck and the resources we have available for today's topic, please visit us online at insightworld.org. In recent days, Chuck came across a book that resonated with him, and it's recommended reading for anyone who's trying to engage in conversations with your friends and family about current social issues. I'm referring to a brand-new book from Pastor Vody Baucom called Fault Lines.

Like a fault line, the social justice movement we see today threatens to divide us. And whether you're a layperson who wants to learn more about the biblical perspective or a pastor who wants to address these important cultural issues with the compassion of Jesus, you'll want to read Fault Lines. You can purchase a copy right now by going to insight.org slash offer, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. If you're looking to receive daily encouragement from Chuck, did you realize that Insight for Living produces a daily devotional that's sent by email? There's no cost, and Chuck's inspirational writings cover a variety of common issues. The devotional is thoughtfully designed to help you navigate challenging issues in your life. And to receive this free devotional email from Chuck, just follow the simple instructions at insight.org slash devotional. As you sense God prompting you to support Insight for Living Ministries, we invite you to give whatever amount suits you. Every gift, large or small, is valued, and every gift will be channeled directly into providing Chuck's Bible teaching on Insight for Living.

Here's the number to call. If you're listening in the United States, dial 800-772-8888, or give a donation online at insight.org. Travelers who want to take a tour to Israel have lots of choices, but few measure up to the thoughtful journey prepared by Insight for Living Ministries. With a proper mix of historical information and biblical context, we provide ample opportunities to pause and let the wonder in.

Our goal is to create special moments when you deepen your love for the Bible and draw closer to your Lord. Experience an unforgettable 12-day tour to Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, March 6 through 17, 2022. To help you grasp the significance of each site, you'll be accompanied by hand-picked Israeli guides, and we choose the best, along with seminary-trained pastors and professors to enhance your spiritual journey. No organization I know of offers this level of exceptional, in-depth instruction and personal care for Holy Land travelers. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444.

Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible come to life. Make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to insight.org slash events. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. Now once again, for my friend Dave Spiker, I'm Wayne Shepard. Chuck Swindoll continues to describe two ultimate questions tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Two Ultimate Questions, was copyrighted in 2017 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-18 22:47:08 / 2023-08-18 22:56:00 / 9

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