Mark 12:28-34 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Great Commandment
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall 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: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Yesterday I mentioned my hope that this Lenten journey has opened you more deeply to the reality of God’s love, which is the focus of today’s passage.
Here we have a well-versed scribe who likely spent years and years studying and copying the Hebrew scriptures asking Jesus what He considers the most important command of all. It’s clear this scribe was impressed with Jesus and the way He answered their questions.
But Jesus doesn’t give him just one answer; His answer was twofold: Love God with all that you are and love people for all they are.
By giving two answers to the single question, Jesus is indicating that love can’t be pulled apart and compartmentalized. There is an orientation toward God and others that flows and moves a lot like a dance between lovers.
If all we do is sit around and think dreamy thoughts of God, but don’t ever move in love toward others and serve them in the way we would like to be served, we don’t have love for God as much as we have a self-absorbed love for ourselves that makes us feel good but avoids exposing our hands to get dirty.
Conversely, if all we do actively get out there and serve others, but don’t ever move in love toward God with all that we are and receive love from Him, we don’t have love for others as much as we have a self-absorbed love for ourselves that makes us feel good but avoids exposing our hearts to get clean.
Have you ever seen someone in love dancing with themselves? Not pretty.
Are you oriented more inwardly toward God to give and receive love? How might God be nudging you to allow the flow of this love to move through you to others? What changes in your life can you make today to bring that about? What fears do you have to overcome?
Are you oriented more outward toward others to give and receive love? How might God be nudging you to draw first from His love for you in order to allow that love to animate how you serve others? What rhythms of life might you consider adding to get time with God more often in love? What fears do you have to overcome?