March 29, 2006

No Greater Rule

Mark 12:28-34

"Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" Mark 12:28


Classic rock radio stations will often dedicate long weekends to playing down the top songs of past decades. The results of the countdowns are always pretty much the same, with "Stairway to Heaven" and "Hey, Jude" among the top finalists.

In Jesus' day, the religious leaders had their own version of this kind of competition. They would regularly work out their top list of God's commandments.

So when a teacher of the law asked Jesus, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" the ears of all the religious leaders and the people would have perked up. What would Jesus say?

Without hesitating, Jesus responded profoundly with the well-known Shema. "Shema" is the first word of the Hebrew command in Deuteronomy 6:4-5: "Hear O Israel: ... Love the LORD your God ..."

This was not a radical answer. The religious leaders would have been satisfied with what Jesus said. And when Jesus connected the Shema to the command from Leviticus 19:18 to love our neighbors, they would have admired his theological understanding.

Tomorrow we'll see how Jesus turned this safe answer into a radical challenge. But today let's ask ourselves, "Do we love God with all our hearts? How well do we love the people in this world around us?"

Dear Lord, I know that the greatest quality in my life ought to be my love for you and others. Help me to love you and those around me with all my heart. For Jesus' sake, Amen.

About the author — Kevin DeRaaf

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