Scripture: Mark 12:28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 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 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 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,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
Observation: It would seem this scribe was not trying to trick Jesus – but asked him an important, honest question. Which commandment was first of all? Jesus responded with two commandments: love the Lord your God, love your neighbor. Yes, there are lots of rules to remember (of particular interest to a scribe), but the rules are not the point. It’s the heart condition that’s the point of the rules and practices and sacrifices and so on. Without a changed heart that loves God and loves others, the commandments have failed to do their job.
Application: A wise person once said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Sounds like a simple principal – and it is. However, it’s very easy to get off of the main thing and start “majoring in minor things” as another person once said.
Churches are notorious for majoring in minor things. And when we do, we compromise the essential meaning and purpose of the church, which Jesus gave to us in the gospels. Including our passage for today, another important passage is from Matthew 28 when Jesus tells his disciples to go to all the world making disciples. Taken as a whole, the purpose of the church is to love God, love neighbor, love the world. It’s so simple, but so hard to do.
Anyway, I saw this image in my daughter’s Facebook feed yesterday and I thought it was perfect for today’s reflection. Lest we get confused on how to respond in certain situations…
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us keep the main thing the main thing. Which is love. Sometimes love looks like affirmation and support. Sometimes love looks like challenge – or even rebuke. But at its foundation, love is about wanting to serve the other. Give us grace… to love. Everyone. Amen.