Today’s Scripture: Mark 12:28-34
28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”
34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Books have been written on this passage of scripture so I’m a little apprehensive to try and tackle it in a single daily devotional. However, in our walk through Mark we have come to what I consider to be the clearest statement of Jesus on what it means to me his disciple.
A man approached Jesus and asked what is the most important commandment? This was not a flippant question. He could have been talking about the 10 commandments but I think instead he was thinking about all of the law, prophets, commandments, and interpretations of those commandments that had been handed down over the centuries. There were a lot of religious laws to follow! So it makes sense to ask which one is the important one. Which one should I pay attention to and which ones can I just leave alone?
Jesus answers that there are two, actually. They are like two pegs on which every other law hangs. You can’t have one without the other. Love God completely. Love Others as yourself. Trying to do life without these two pegs will result with everything falling to the floor.
We talk about love all the time. But we don’t talk about love enough. Jesus has given us the key here. And yet, if you are like me, we rush past it way too often. Love of God and Love of Others should drive EVERYTHING we do as disciples. And yet I find myself often asking “is it right” instead of “is it loving?”
Towards the end of this passage Jesus tells the man, who obviously got it, that he was not far from the Kingdom of God. And isn’t that our goal – to help bring close the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom is founded on love of God and love of others. If we get those two right, we are not far off.
Today try asking yourself “is it loving” as you move through your daily actions. And keep working on it. Love gets us closer to the Kingdom. It so simple. And yet it’s so hard.
God thank you for showing us the foundation of your Kingdom. Forgive us for the times we push love to the side and focus on other things. Help us to live this life in the middle of your love and the share that love with everyone. We pray that your Kingdom will come quickly. Help us to bring it about by loving you completely and loving all others as ourselves. Amen