Summary: Exposition of Mark 12:28-34 about the greatest commandment of Jesus
Text: Mark 12:28-34, Title: Religion in a Nutshell, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/9/08, PM
A. Opening illustration: in 1602, when Shakespeare had Hamlet declare, "O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count my self a King of infinite space." That song Center of the Mark,
B. Background to passage: this is question number three in Mark 12. It comes from an individual scribe, who unlike the Pharisees and Sadducees, does not want to catch Jesus in His words. We don’t know that his intentions were necessarily to seek truth, for the job of the scribes was to know the bible. And it is clear that he does. But it was fairly common question for scribes to ask rabbis what their version of the whole of the Torah, or the nutshell version of religion from God was; and so the question was probably a curious inquiry. But of course, with this summary of the law and the prophets, Jesus gives us the main thing, and the second.
C. Main thought: So in the text we will see how Jesus summed up the prescriptions of the Torah in two thoughts.
A. Love the One True God Intensely (v. 30)
1. In Jesus’ answer to His summary of the Torah, He quotes a very familiar passage to the Jews, the Shema. And He gives a very simple straight forward answer—love the one true God. Note the affirmation of exclusivity of loyalty to Yahweh first. The word for love here is agape, which is an unconditional, self-sacrificing, highly-valuing kind of love. And biblically, love is a conscious choice in conjunction with emotional attachment. And I had discussions about the variations of meaning in these words, and decided that it was probably Jesus intention to cover all the bases and teach that we are to love God with every aspect of our beings as the most glorious being ever. The language used is “from your whole heart…soul…mind…strength.”
3. Illustration: The young woman died at an early age, and after her death the locket was opened, everyone wondering whose face he would find within. And in the locket was found simply a little slip of paper with these words written upon it, "Whom having not seen, I love." Her Lord Jesus was the only lover she knew and the only lover she longed for. “A true love of God must begin with a delight in his holiness, and not with a delight in any other attribute; for no other attribute is truly lovely without this.” –Jonathon Edwards, “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.” -Tozer, “To love God wholeheartedly, we must be convinced that our only happiness is in him alone.” Tell about the story on Jesus Freaks radio of the young man in Vietnam that was preaching, imprisoned, offered early release, then refused to disciple, “To love God wholeheartedly, we must be convinced that our only happiness is in him alone. We cannot believe this until we renounce all other efforts at happiness. If we look to God to supply half our happiness, we can only love him with half our hearts.”
4. So do you love God? Seems like a Sunday School kinda question. And most of us would offer a resounding yes. What do you love about Him? But how do we know? Do you consistently choose Him over things, possessions, people, or activities (highly-valuing)? Do you long to be with Him? Do you allow His priorities to take precedence over yours? Are you willing to sacrifice other valuable things to please Him? Do you think about Him regularly? Is the very core of your being entranced by Him? Do you arrange your life around Him, or arrange Him around your life? Is He your most sacred treasure? Do you obey his commands? Do you choose worldly things over Him? Do you have an emotional attachment to God? If all you had were taken away except God, would you be satisfied? What if you find out/decide that you don’t really love God in any more than a SS fashion; what should you do? You should fall down at the feet of Jesus and repent for not valuing the most valuable treasure, for not obeying his commands, for not following him, and beg of Him forgiveness and a new heart. Then throw yourself passionately into knowing all you can about Him so that you will see His value and attractiveness.
B. Love All Peoples Unconditionally (v. 31)
1. Jesus then, for the first time in rabbinical history linked theological exclusive heart religion with loving your neighbor. He combined Deut 6:4-5 with Lev 19:18. Jesus assumes self-love. In the Matthean passage he then states that upon these two commands hangs all the law and the prophets. That is a huge statement. That all the law and the prophets depend on these two commands. In the Lukan parallel, the scribe asks Jesus to define who is his neighbor.