If you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great (v.19).
Pandora is one of the musical marvels of the Internet age. It’s an algorithm-based website that allows you to listen to any musical artists, bands, and songs that you like. By each song, you can click a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” sign. When you click the “thumbs up” sign, it plays more music like what you just heard. If you click the “thumbs down” sign, Pandora will take that song out of rotation or skip that song and bring up a different song for you to judge.
To prevent His disciples from developing a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” approach to the Scriptures, Jesus taught them to have a high view of the Word. Near the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said His purpose in teaching was not to weaken the interpretation and application of the written Scriptures but to complete His disciples’ understanding of it (Matthew 5:17). To show His high view of Scripture, the unchanging nature of God’s Word, and the indistinguishable principles of what the rabbis called “light” and “heavy” commandments, Jesus said heaven and earth would sooner disappear than even the smallest stroke of the pen found in the Scriptures (vv.18-19).
For Jesus, a light commandment (do not be angry or bear hatred in your heart) is just as important as a heavy commandment (do not murder). Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that God had not given them the freedom to customize His Word to their own liking.
As believers in Jesus, let’s internalize all of His teachings, not just the ones we like. When we accept and obey all of His Word, He empowers us to instinctively live out “thumbs-up” obedience to what it says—even the difficult teachings.
Read James 1:19. What are the consequences of hearing but not obeying God’s Word? What are the results of hearing and obeying His Word?
To what parts of God’s Word do you tend to give a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down”? What needs to change in your heart so that you can obey all of Jesus’ teachings?