Summary: “Jesus answered, ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 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.’ Mark 12:29-30.

Theme: Observe the great commandments of Jesus

Text: Deut. 6:1-9; Heb. 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34

It is one thing to know the commandments of the Lord but quite another thing to observe them. In the Old Testament no one was made righteous by observing the commandments of the Lord. What made them righteous was the sacrifices they offered and these sacrifices only covered their sins for a period of time. The Scribes and religious leaders knew the commandments of God and believed they were righteous because they observed them. They were, however, not in any position to obey all of them no matter how hard they tried and to disobey one was to disobey all of them. They were so consumed by their own righteousness that they constantly debated the commandments to find out which one was the greatest. These debates yielded no winner and they believed that by involving Christ in the debate He would offer them the opportunity to discredit Him. But they were mistaken for in Christ “was hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). As believers we all know the greatest commandment from Jesus’ answer. Our knowledge of the greatest commandments of Jesus does not serve any purpose if we do not understand or observe them.

Jesus, as is His usual practice, answered the Scribe from the Words of Scripture. He quoted the words from Deuteronomy known as the “Shema”. This was common knowledge to every Jew as they recited it every morning and evening during their time of worship that the Lord is One. This confession is immediately followed with the commandment “To love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might”. This simply means to have an intimate relationship with God and make Him the most important person in our lives. When we love God with our whole being, He will fill us with His love and enable us love our neighbour as ourselves. We cannot say we love God and not love our neighbour. When we really love God we will also be filled with the love of God and our relationships will be dictated by love.

Jesus has given us a new commandment to love. John 13:34 declares “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another”. We cannot keep this commandment through self effort. How can we in our sinful condition love just as Christ has loved us. To be able to keep this commandment we must become like Christ and this is only possible when we accept the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. When Christ shed His blood on the cross we were redeemed from the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13). Our spirit was cleansed, sanctified and made perfect for the Holy Spirit to live in. The Holy Spirit can now write His laws on our hearts and by His grace empower us to keep them “for out of the heart are the issues of life”. When God saves us our spirit is made perfect and we are declared righteous in the sight of God. We need to understand that it is only the blood of Christ that can perfect our spirits and give us eternal life. Eternal life can be yours today if you confess Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord and submit to Him.

If we really understand the purpose of God’s commandments we would seek to obey them no matter the cost. Obedience to His commandments is the proof of belonging to Him and the source of our blessings. However, obedience to His commandments is only possible with His empowerment. Our search for His empowerment will always bring us to the sacrifice of Christ and the realisation that we are saved by grace through faith. (Eph. 2:8) The result of our obedience is His blessings of good health, long life and His favour. Every father is pleased with his obedient children. As believers, cleansed by the blood of Christ, God the Father sees us and loves us as He sees and loves His Son Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus enjoyed the favour of God through His obedience so believers today enjoy His favour through their obedience. The favour of God is always accompanied by God’s abundant provisions. The Psalmist declares in Psalm 23 that He will set a table before us and fill our cup till it overflows.

We are spirit beings, we possess a soul and we live in a body. The blood of Christ has made us spiritually perfect but we need to renew the mind and bring the body under the control of the renewed mind. The Holy Spirit dwelling in our perfected spirit is the means of renewing the mind. At salvation the mind still thinks contrary to the Word of God and only the Holy Spirit can renew the mind to align its thinking with the Word of God. The flesh is a way of thinking that is contrary to God’s Word and after a life of acting in the flesh it takes effort and persistence to renew the mind. As a believer are you still allowing the flesh to determine your thinking and actions or have you renewed your mind and your actions are controlled by the Word of God?

To renew the mind starts by constantly hearing and meditating on the Word of God. You have to spend time in the Word and you will always end up believing what you spend time on. In the Old Testament the Jews were taught how it was possible to observe the commandments of the Lord. They were not only to memorize and recite the Word but also to study and teach it. They were to have constant reminders to always bring their focus back to the Word. nd how much better to be reminded of the Word when you share the Word with others.

One of the Jewish customs to remind them of the Word of God that is still in practice today is the use of the mezuzah. This is a small cylinder of wood or metal that is fixed to the right hand post of every door in a Jewish house. In it is a parchment inscribed with the Word of God, most often the “Shema”, as we read in our first Scripture reading. The Jew touches the mezuzah every time he leaves or enters the house and speaks the words of Psalm 121:8 “The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore”. We need to be committing our going out and our coming in into the Lord’s hand instead of putting our trust in man. Is your mind conditioned by the Word of God or by the flesh? Does God come first in your life?

Christ loves us and gave His life to pay the penalty for sin so that we might become like Him. He has written His commandments on our hearts so that we can obey Him and enter into His abundant blessings for our lives. Love is the hallmark of Christ’s disciples and this is something the world cannot fail to notice. All that Christ suffered and endured was because of you and me. All that He requires of us is to believe Him and submit to Him and by faith enter into the abundant provisions of His grace so that we glorify the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen!