The Two Strategies for Walking with God

June 20, 2018

Mark 12:28-31

28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?

One of the scribes approached. Following the encounter with the Pharisees and Herodian’s, the Sadducees interrogated Jesus with questions about the resurrection.

Scribe (lawyer): A scribe was an expert in interpreting the Law of Moses. The scribes understood the law, taught it to disciples, and served as experts in cases where people were accused of violating the law. Usually, a scribe was also a Pharisee (Mark 2:16).

This particular scribe does not seem to have been part of a scheme to trap Jesus.

 Asked. Here was a scribe who got outside of the box. He was able to rise above the prejudice of his fellow scribes. Even in a crowd of non-believers, there was one seeking the truth. God answers people who have an inquiring mind. (Compare: See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized (Acts 8: 36, 37)?

29″This is the most important,” Jesus answered: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One.

The most important. Which commandment has priority?

The first part of Jesus’ answer to the scribe involved His quoting the Shema (prayer; confession of faith) from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. The Shema — “Hear, O Israel, the Lord Thy God is one Lord.”–was the closest thing to a creed Judaism possessed. It was the sentence with which the service of the synagogue always began and still begins.

The Shema had become a confession of faith that a pious Jew recited morning and evening. The scribe knew that. The Shema affirmed two things:

  1. The unity of God—“God is one Lord.”
  2. His covenant relationship to the people of Israel— “the Lord our God” (Deut. 6:4)

The scribes wore this Scripture in the little leather boxes (phylacteries) (Mt. 23:5) fastened on the head or the arm when he was in prayer. As he prayed, he reminded himself of his belief. When Jesus quoted this sentence as the first commandment, every devout Jew would agree with Him.

Lord is One. This principle stood out from the pagan religions of that day. To the Jew, monotheism stood firm against all the pagan idols and rituals. Today, many people have forgotten God’s words: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Does God have priority in your life?

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

Love. Call for action. Believers are to be loyal to God.

Lord. In the Hebrew texts, Lord translates Yahweh, the true God of Israel.

God. Renders Elohim, the general name for God. Is God a symbol or the priority for you?

 31 “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The second is: The second part of Jesus’ quotation came from Leviticus 19:18. In its original context, it has to do with a man’s fellow Jew. Jesus quoted it without qualification and without limiting boundaries. He took an old law and filled it with a new meaning.

Love your neighbor as yourself. A genuine love for God will express itself in an unselfish love for other people. You cannot really love God without loving those God has created. Love for God and love for others go together. The new thing that Jesus did was to combine these two commandments. His statement, Jesus summed up the Law.

Strict Pharisees regarded only other Pharisees as their neighbors. Strict Jews did not regard Gentiles as their neighbors at all. Jesus extended the definition of neighbor. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. l0:25-37) Jesus defined the term neighbor as anyone who needs your love or help.

no other commandment. Religion to Jesus: love God and love people. The apostle John emphasized Jesus’ words in 1 John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.’”