The problem with any speech that one hears repeatedly is that a hardening of the ears sets in. That may be the case with the first portion of our lectionary reading containing the summary of the law: we have undoubtedly “overheard” it.
There is something appealing about what Jesus does with the theology professors and senior pastors. He is being tested. The atmosphere is not one of lively and amiable scholarly debate; it is hostile, and the intent is to discredit Jesus. Much is at stake—Jesus’ authority, his role and his identity. Tom Long has called this Jesus’ final exam, because it will be this test that ultimately dooms Jesus in the minds of the scholarly authorities. But what is appealing is that Jesus takes something so complicated and posits a simple formula.