Front And Center
Lord, as I submit to Your Word, may You kindle in me a fresh love for You and a heart sensitized to the needs of others.
Read MARK 12:28–34
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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus placed love for God at the heart of the law. Love for our neighbor should and will spring naturally from this as a consequence.
Do you have a mission statement for life? If you’re stuck, view “21 Outstanding Mission Statements for Your Life” (www.unlimitedchoice.org).You might like number 18, “to create the best and most healthy mouth-watering dishes that tantalize the taste-buds of millions.” Alternatively, you could adopt Jesus’ answer to the scribe when asked for the “chief commandment” (NIV’s “most important” obscures the sense of this being the commandment “on which the others hang”; Larry Hurtado). At its heart is the unifying theme of love (30,31).
Jesus’ response highlights the continuity between the Old Testament Law and his own coming and ministry. He stands in opposition to the many-layered interpretations of the Law proffered by the scribes and Pharisees but four-square with God’s purpose in history. There is no novelty in God’s desire to enter into relationship with people. From Adam and Eve onwards he has wanted to walk with human beings, committing himself in covenant to them and looking for a response “with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy” (30, The Message). The covenant calling was always to be a blessing to others, not a feel-good factor to boost self-worth. God’s people are outward-looking people and Jesus is
not honored unless needy neighbors’ poverty, hardship and emotional trauma are being met.
Loving God and loving people are unchangingly what God is about. Few would disagree with anything that has been said—but then, from the mouth of the scribe comes this: these are “more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (33). If this conversation is taking place in the Temple, it is surely a shot across the bows of Temple worship, which is inadequate and will be superseded. It is mercy God desires (Hos. 6:6; Matt. 9:13; 12:7).
How best can you express your love for God and neighbor today? Be alert to every opportunity and at the end of the day take time to review and pray.
Lord Jesus, You are the embodiment of perfect love. Teach me love, real love, Your kind of love.
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