Mark 12:28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 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: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Big Idea: In order to be obedient to God, we must love him and love others.
The discussion had been going on with various religious leaders intentionally trying to trip up Jesus. But this time a lawyer really did just want to see Christ’s understanding of God’s law. So he asked him a more relevant but tough question. Which of the commandments is the most important?
Jesus responds by summing up the two sections of the law and then ties them together with love. The law deals with our relationship with God and it deals with our relationship with one another. By learning to love both God and man we are in obedience to the whole law, both in spirit and in the letter of the law. Even an arrogant, self righteous person can offer sacrifices and observe religious rites. But if they do all of that without love in their heart, then they are still guilty of breaking the law.
The lawyer saw that Jesus really had answered his question well and Christ acknowledged this man’s earnestness (as compared to the more legalistic pharisees). This is also probably why Jesus directly answered his question rather than ignoring it or going around it like he had with the previous questions.
Application: The answer to this question also ties in with the other answers that Jesus had been giving. The key to pleasing God is in humility rather than pride. We ought to think of ourselves less and focus more on others. Invest in souls rather than ourselves. A realistic attempt at this really does require faith. It means believing that God will take care of you, if you spend your time, money, and efforts in caring for others. But this is the most satisfying life! Today, take some time to worship God, spend a few minutes in prayer or song and thank him for taking care of all of your needs! Then throughout your day, look for ways to care for others. Not just your friends and family, but others who might need to see God’s love today. And finally, if you have any needs, prayer requests or could just use some encouragement, let me know. It would be my privilege, honor, and duty to share God’s love by serving you this week!