Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
A teacher of the law had been listening to this discussion and admired how Jesus answered them. So he came up and asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”
Jesus answered, “The first is: Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”
The teacher of the law said to him, “Well spoken, Master; you are right when you say that he is one, and there is no other besides him. To love him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”
Jesus approved this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
“Which commandment is the first of all?”
The Gospels do not always feature teachers of the law in a positive light. But here is one who approaches Jesus with a sincere desire to learn his message. When he asks Jesus to say which commandment is first of all, he applauds Jesus’ answer: that the first commandment is to love God with one’s whole heart, soul, mind, and strength—and that this is joined by a second and equivalent commandment, that we love our neighbor as ourselves. This is a reminder that the message of Jesus was in fact the highest expression of Jewish teaching.
And yet, how often in Christian history have we strayed from the simple religious message of Jesus, instead battling with one another over matters of doctrine, creedal definitions, or the correct way of worshipping? Jesus was asked: What is the most important commandment of all? And he offered a plain answer: It is that we truly love God and we truly love our neighbor. If we get that much right, regardless of our other failings, we are not far from the kingdom of God.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2019