Summary: Surrounded by legalist and religious tradition within the Temple, Jesus was questioned by an earnest scribe which of all the many commandments was greatest. Jesus answered with a convicting and compelling statement.
The Great Commandment of Love
Mark 12: 28-34
Jesus was often questioned and challenged concerning His interpretation of Scripture. Who better to know the word than the Word Himself? In this chapter He was questioned of the Pharisees concerning paying taxes, of the Sadducees concerning the resurrection and life in heaven, and now He is questioned of a scribe about which of the commandments was greatest.
We need to understand, in the Pentateuch, the books of the Law (Gen.-Deut.) there are 613 laws given to men. Those laws formed the basis for the Jew’s beliefs and religious practices. There were so many laws that they found it impossible to keep them all in daily life. They often discussed which were the most important, which must be absolutely obeyed, and which could be tolerated undone.
It is impossible to live good enough in ourselves. Jesus takes all the law and sums it up in these two great truths. He taught that love was the greatest commandment of all. It is The Great Commandment of Love that I would like to consider this evening.
I. The Requirements in the Commandments (29) – And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord. If we are to possess the ability to perform these commandments, we must understand what is required to do so. Keep in mind, this passage is referring to Agape love. For the most part our world knows very little about God’s love. Love often revolves around circumstances and is subject to change. God’s love isn’t affected by circumstances and never changes. So, what are the requirements related to God’s love?
A. A Proper Recognition of the Lord – Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord. Jesus reveals that we must recognize the Lord for who He is. We must hear what God has to say. He is one Lord; there is none other besides Him. It is impossible to love as God would have us to without proper recognition of Him. He is our Sovereign. All that we are and ever hope to be is a result of God’s goodness. He is worthy of our submission.
We must learn to listen and obey the Lord. As a child I recognized the authority of my dad. I expressed my love to him by obeying his wishes. If we are to love the Lord, we must recognize His authority in our lives. We don’t have the right or the privilege to live as we please. If Jesus isn’t Lord of our lives, we’ll never love Him as we should!
B. A Personal Relationship with the Lord – Notice the text says our God, v.29, and thy God, v.30. We all know that God is love. One cannot truly know and express love apart from God. In order to love as God commands, His love must dwell in our hearts. His love is first given to us, until then we really can’t love. 1 John 4:19 – We love him, because he first loved us. Real godly love isn’t possible without a personal relationship with Christ.
All men don’t express a proper love because all men don’t know Christ. When I think of the love Christ has for me, I am compelled to love Him. It also compels me to love others. Jesus loved me when I had nothing to offer. I was of no benefit to Him, yet He loved me. We must love others, without condition, as Jesus loved us!
II. The Responsibility to the Commandments (30-31) – Once we’ve met the requirements, we must accept the responsibility. If you have experienced a proper recognition and a personal relationship with the Lord, you are responsible for carrying out these commandments. They aren’t open for debate; God expects us to love as He does. Let’s consider our responsibility.
A. The Supreme Commandment (30) – And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. First and foremost we are to love the Lord. Without a love for Him we will never love others. Our love for God must be the ultimate priority.
Here Jesus quotes what is known as the “Shema” found in Deut.6:4-5. The Jews quoted this passage every day to remind them that Jehovah God alone is the Lord. We too must make sure that God is given His place of preeminence in our lives. Sadly, the Lord is often given a “back seat” in our day to day lives. If we are to love Him above all else there are some areas we must concentrate upon:
1. Love with All our Heart – The heart is the seat of man’s affection and will. Our affection and devotion must be offered completely to the Lord. Our love must be genuine and real, not just an outward show. It must be expressed daily, not just at church services. We must love Him as if we believe He is real and in control of our lives. (Many don’t live as if they believe that Christ is coming again!)