Mark 12:28-34English Standard Version (ESV)
The Great Commandment
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And 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 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 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, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: The Kingdom of Love
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Loving God
Accompanying David Legge sermon: Question Time
Love God and love people - that truly summarizes the 10 commandments.
The first four of the ten commandments listed in Exodus 20 deal with loving God....
“You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
The last six deal with loving people.....
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that theLord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
Legge adds this important point....
it is utterly impossible for any man or woman just in the simple strength of their human flesh to love God the way it says here, with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind, and with all strength; and to love their neighbour as themselves. That's why we live in this messed up world, because men can't do it - they try to do it, that's called religion, but they can't do it. The only way you can do this is by grace, a free gift, through faith, that's what you accept the gift with, when the Holy Spirit comes into your life when you're born-again as a Christian, and the Lord God of heaven starts to live out the life of Jesus in you - that's the only way that can be done, through the law of the Spirit in the New Covenant, no other way.
Rayburn adds an important point too - love if the fulfillment of the law. Jesus explicitly ties love to obedience.
to obey him is the way to love him because it pleases and honors him. So far from love being in conflict with the law, without the law we would not knowhow to love and we would certainly not know how best to love.
The Lord makes a point of this, I think, by drawing these two commandments together: the commandment to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. That is to say, you cannot really love another human being – not as that person ought to be loved – if you do not first love God. And you cannot love God without loving others in the radical way in which God commands you love them, the same radical way in which he loved you. The love of your neighbor flows from and is empowered by your love for God and the love of God is demonstrated and practiced in your love for you neighbor because that is what pleases him most.
Legge and MacArthur note that the scribe was near the kingdom. But near is not good enough. As Legge noted, eventually we need to stop questioning and start believing. We will not know the answer to every single questions - we are not God. At some point we need to stop questions Christ and start believing Him. The scribe understood that it was an internal issue, not a ceremonial ritual - hopefully, after Jesus' death and resurrection, this scribe took the next step and actually entered the kingdom!
Rayburn adds that sometimes we can miss the obvious. We can be so busy thinking about what we need to do, or what we need to work on, that we can miss the obvious - love.
Love and one does all. Love and one fulfills the entire law. Love and one lives as God would have a man or woman live. Love and Christ is pleased. Love and the great purposes of your life will be fulfilled, no matter what comes. Love and because God is love you will find yourself at one with God and with reality itself.
And, of course, love not as the world defines it, but as scripture defines it - 1 Corinthians 13 and Exodus 20 are two great places to start!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 12:35-37
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