Summary: Heart, head and hands... these three areas are all covered in the greatest commandment as formational for God's people.
Next week we will be having a combined service here, followed by a fellowship lunch and ministry fair down in the fellowship hall. This is a golden opportunity for us to hear from our deacons who lead various ministries here and join with them by taking part in one or more of the ministries of this church body.
God calls us His children so that we are a family. He calls us His church so that we are a gathered people, called out from the world into a community that belongs to Him. He calls us a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. Jesus Christ is our King and He rules as Lord of our lives. God’s word also calls us the body of Christ and each of us as members of that body. We work together to build one another up in Christ, and as we live and confess our faith before others in this world we shine as lights and draw others into this amazing community of Christ.
Last week we celebrated our high school graduates. Wasn’t it encouraging to hear from all the dads of these grads as they shared with us and publicly blessed their children before this church family? That was so great! The church is the only place you can go to witness words like that among God‘s people. God has given us the message of life and blessing. He has made us into His family of faith so that we can know and understand the truth and share the eternal hope we have in Christ. We have the gospel! We are people of God! Children of the living Creator of the universe, we are looking forward to sitting with Jesus Christ on the glorious throne of God. Revelation 3:21. Jesus also tells us plainly, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” God calls us to look past this temporal fleshly experience and keep our focus on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Till we get there, we have a job to do. We have a commission to give our lives to. We have a purpose and plan that makes being here worth it!
Today, I invite you to look at your Bible and listen to God’s best for your life. Look at Jesus’ words in Mark and hear it again.
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Here we have an encounter between a certain lawyer and Jesus. Matthew records this as well and says that he was an expert in the law and that this question was a test. Matthew 22:35. Luke 10 records a similar statement, but in a different context. In Luke, the lawyer gives the answer quoting Deuteronomy 6 when Jesus asks him what does the law say. This answer was well known and accepted among all the Jews of Jesus’ day.
Back to Mark’s account. Mark indicates that the lawyer is sincere and that Jesus’ final reply to him recognizes that he is on the right track. “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Today, let’s focus on the very heart of what Jesus says in this text as God’s own Son answers the question: “What is the greatest commandment?”
We sing the song, “Hear O Israel!” Which speaks of who is God and how we are to respond to Him.
Matthew lists 3 areas, All your heart, soul and strength. Mark lists four: all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Also in Mark, the lawyer sums up Jesus answer with three areas: heart, understanding, and strength.
I want this to be a practical lesson in preparation for next week’s ministry fair.
In the middle ages, these words of Jesus were explored and reflected upon in great detail. One author noticed that the soul is the life force and that the heart, mind and strength make up within us differs from person to person. In fact, many people seem to have one of these areas as their central mode of operation, and that the characters in the gospels bear this out.