Keeping the Royal Law
Lord, You brought me into being, You enfold me in Your love and one day I will return to You.
Read Mark 12:28-34
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“The Jesus Creed (32,33) exhorts us to see that the most important commandments in the entire Bible are two: to love God and to love others. All other commandments and prohibitions (there are 611) derive from one of these two most important commandments” (Scott McKnight).
Have you ever overheard an intriguing conversation and been drawn into it? This lawyer couldn’t resist the theological debate between Jesus and the Sadducees by throwing in an excellent question of his own. In answering it, Jesus quotes from two Old Testament sources (Deut. 6:4,5; Lev. 19:18), both books of the Law very familiar to the questioner. Unlike the combatants in the interrupted debate, these two teachers are on common ground in their understanding of the person of God and the importance of love due to God and neighbor. The performance of the rituals of religion are of less value than a whole-being response of love to “the Lord your God” and the self-affirming love of neighbor.
It is possible, intellectually, to have all the right answers without necessarily having a commitment to the ideas being expressed. The rich young ruler had confronted Jesus with a similar question and was given a specific instruction on how to tangibly live out his love of God and neighbor (Mark 10:17-23). He went away sad, as the challenge was too hard for him. Jesus affirmed the wisdom of the questioner in today’s story and encouraged him to believe that he was close to comprehending and experiencing the kingdom of God. A number of Jesus’ parables encouraged people to keep searching for that which was most precious until they found it (Matt. 13:44-46; Luke 15:1-10). We don’t know if this teacher of the law kept searching after this encounter, but we are told that other people gave up asking questions. Jesus always managed to turn issues of importance back on people so they had to make some response. Even today, that is very threatening for people who don’t want to change their point of view, their lifestyle or their actions.
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right” (Jas. 2:8). What do you find most challenging about loving your neighbor?
Lord, loving You and loving others is so easy to talk about. But I cannot do these things unless You enable me with Your grace.
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