Mar31TueMarch 31, 2020
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.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
Approximately two years prior, Jesus had healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. Instead of being in awe of the work of God, the Jewish authorities began to devise a plan to destroy him (Mark 3:6). Now here he was, right in the middle of Jerusalem during one of the busiest weeks of the year. The snare was being set.
Four Jewish religious sects were all taking turns trying to trap “the teacher” into some heretical or blasphemous answer. Thus far, Jesus had a perfect score.
The next question came from a scribe. “Which commandment is the most important?”
What’s odd about this question is that it’s hardly a trap! Every decent Jew knows the answer. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:18 as any of them would have done. Of course, a love for God and care for others summarizes the commands from Scripture.
So apparently, this man hadn’t come to trap Jesus. It appears as though he had already come to see that genuine affection, not religious legalism, is what God desires most. Perhaps what this man wanted was the assurance of being in God’s kingdom. Jesus answered his heart. “You are not far.”
Love does summarize Godly living. But Godly living can only be accomplished by first walking through a door. Jesus had said earlier in his ministry, “I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).
We don’t know what became of this scribe. But perhaps after Jesus journeyed to the cross and rose from the grave, he saw that a life of love first comes through faith in Jesus.
May we remember both the path of love and the Lord of love during this Lenten season, Amen!