Today we look at Mark 12:28-34:
28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
For once, we get someone asking Jesus a legitimate question. This scribe isn’t coming to test or trick Jesus, he is coming to ask him a real question about belief and what is right.
His question, for a religious leader of the day, would be the most important question that could be asked. What is the greatest commandment?
The reason why this is such a pressing issue for these religious leaders is because so much of their faith, their understanding and relationship to God is tied up in the commandments. Those commandments handed to them by God through the Law, and those commandments that religious leaders came up with help them live under their understanding of the Law.
Notice I said to live under their understanding of the Law, not the actual Law. So much of the Law keeping of Jesus’ day was an additional burden placed upon the backs of people that was never God’s plan or design.
So the question is asked, what is most important. And Jesus says this. Of all the things that could be important, Jesus says the most important command is this. Love.
Love. Love is the height of the Law. Love is the purpose of the law. Love is what it all comes down to. We are called to love God. That means personally, through our own devotional life, as well as publicly, through acts of worship.
We are called to love our neighbor personally, through acts of charity, as well as publicly, gathering together with others to work for the good of others.
And we are called to love ourselves. You are precious. You are loved. You really can’t properly love anyone until you realize that you are worthy of love yourself.
Love of God, love of neighbor, love of self. This is the height of the law. May we good law keepers today. May we love.
Friday we’ll look at Mark 12:35-44.
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