In Matthew 22:39, Jesus mentions a command that is not found in the Ten Commandments. Does this mean Jesus forgot about them or that He felt a need to add a new law altogether?
But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:34-39 bold mine)
A few critics have pointed out that the command in Matt. 22:39 is not found in the Ten Commandments. Does this mean Jesus had forgotten the commandments that He Himself established? Not at all. The problem is nothing but a false assumption made on the reader’s part. When the Pharisees speak of the “law,” they aren’t talking about the Ten Commandments exclusively but the entire collection of OT writings. Thus, when the Pharisees challenged Jesus with the question of what law is the greatest, Jesus had no obligation to reach for the Ten Commandments alone. Jesus’ answer is found in a portion of Leviticus which reads,
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)
In chapter 24 of the Jewish text, Bereishit Rabbah (or Genesis Rabbah), Rabbi Akiva had declared that,
“This is a great principle of the Torah: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
In the end, the problem lies only with our immediate assumptions. It’s a lesson we all need to take to heart as we can often tend to interpret verses or entire passages of Scripture with nothing more than our immediate inferences. Most times we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Let’s learn to slow down and evaluate before jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst.