Summary: God’s commandments though many are not burdensome. All he wants is our love.
28. And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29. And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
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: this is the first commandment.
31. And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, you have said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33. And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that did ask him any question.
I wonder how many of you watch the Jeopardy show? We usually watch it often because it precedes Wheel of fortune! The questions on Jeopardy are always difficult but have you noticed that the contestants answer them so quickly and with relative ease? The scribe in today’s gospel story reminds me of Jeopardy when he comes to Jesus with a difficult question. He asks, “Which is the first commandment of all?
I am not sure if you are aware but by Jesus’ time, the Jews had accumulated more than 600 laws and commandments. There were major laws and minor laws and many taught that all the laws were equally binding and that it was dangerous to make any distinction among them. In that sense the scribe was asking a very difficult question. He was not looking for a certain chronological order of the commandments as opposed to asking which of the commandments was the most important or weightiest of them all.
I am assuming that with so many laws, the scribe was confused and overwhelmed. He certainly knew he could not keep all of them but at the same time he seemed to have been struggling to do
everything he can to please God. He was a good man.
I believe the same applies to many of you. There are 66 books in the bible (approx 1500 pages or more depending upon the print) which contains over 4000 years of history. I am sure for many of you this might be overwhelming; not only is the bible a lot of reading but there is also a lot in there for you to remember and understand! I know you mean well and you genuinely want to commit your life to God but I am sure that you too would like to know the shortest and quickest way to the heart of God. It seems to me that the answer is the one that Jesus gave to the scribe: This is what he said
"You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind and with all of your strength; and besides, you are to love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these”.
I am not suggesting that everything else in the bible is irrelevant but rather that you give these commandments the highest priority in your life. As opposed to more than two million laws in the United States, the laws of God though many are not burdensome. Jesus reduced the 600 to two simple principles of loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. When you do these two things, you fulfill all the commandments.
The “key” is to love and therefore, I thought it might be a good idea to try and define human love. In fact, a group of children were asked “What does love mean?” and these were some of their answers: They said,
Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on cologne and they go out and smell each other.
Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.
When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.
Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.
Another said, When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.