The Great Commandment

23rd Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: St. Mark 12:28-34

There was no love lost between the experts of the law and Jesus. The task of these experts of the law and the Sadducees was to interpret the law and to see that each rule and regulation was followed the letter of that law.

When the scribe came to Jesus with his question, which was often a matter of great debate, he was trying to trip Jesus up by the way he answered. This debate had gone on ever since Moses had received them on Mount Sinai. He had received 613 laws according to tradition. 365 were according to the days of the sun year, and 248 accorded to the generations of man.

David came and reduced the 613 to 11 in Psalms 11. Isaiah came and reduced the 11 to 6 in Isaiah 32:18. Micah came and reduced the 6 to 3 in Micah 6:8. Isaiah then brought the 3 to 2 in Isaiah 66:1. Finally in Habakkuk 2:1, the 2 were reduced to 1 with these words: “The just shall live by faith.”

We can see by the actions of the rabbinic ingenuity, that the law interpreters tried to contain and expand the laws of Judaism over the years. When the expert of the law in today’s passage came questioning Jesus, the issue of the law was still a hot issue in Jewish debate and discussion.

Here Jesus takes the 2 great commandments and puts them together. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, oh Lord! Thy Lord is one Lord.”

The Jewish law Shema is a statement in which each service in the synagogue worship service begins even today. There are 3 statements of the Shema, which is contained in a small leather box that each devoted Jew would wear around their neck or on their wrist. The statements are contained in a small circular box that is attached to the door of every Jewish household door. Here is where Jesus stated a tremendous need in each of our lives: We are to love the Lord our God with our whole being, heart, body, soul, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

It is so easy to make our worship service as a thing we do on Sunday morning within the confines of the church building, instead of an action we do constantly and daily in our lives. We need to be reminded that worship and service unto our Lord should be 24 hours a day each and every day.

We are to be concerned not only about ourselves, our family, and our friends, but also our neighbors and people around the world. We must love the neighbor as Jesus loves each of us, because His great Spirit must dwell in each of us. We should never think of them and/or us for Jesus’ blood was shed on calvary’s cross for all our sins.

Over the years we have separated ourselves from one another. We have

  • the haves and have-nots.
  • the educated and non-educated.
  • blue-collar and white-collar worker classes.
  • the pigment in our skin.
  • the nations we live in.
  • names and denominations of churches we attend.
If we don’t seek to be one in Christ, we are no better than the heathen who does not seek a relationship with the Lord. We have become so comfortable with ourselves and our relationship with the Lord that we don’t seek to reach out to those who don’t know Him.

May we seek to turn a new leaf in our life, searching and seeking that all others will love the Lord our God as their God? When was the last time you reached out to share your faith with someone outside your family circle or your church community?

Let us pray.