Summary: St. Francis of Assisi said, “Love God with all your heart and do as you please.” When we love God passionately, supremely, extremely, completely we can do whatever we feel like doing!
On one of our rare excursions to Sauble Beach I noticed amongst the sea of sunbathers an odd-looking, not-dressed-for-the-occasion-figure sweeping the sand with a metal detector. He was searching for treasures in the sand. He was a little scary as he came too close to a child who was gazing through goggles that caught the glimpse of a huge foot in his view! The child took on water as he scampered back on shore!
TIME is often equated with images of sand. An hour glass reminds us that time is running out as the sands of the glass trickle too quickly through the squeezed funnel.
Old hymn of the church (896): “The sands of time are sinking / the dawn of Heaven breaks…”
Where has the time gone? Four years are like a breath. Time is a mist. James 4:14 (NLT): “Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”
Ephesians 5:16 (KJV): “Redeem the time, because the days are evil.” We could add, redeem the time because life is short.
God has given us two treasures in the sand of time, meaning, these treasures were given to his people centuries before Jesus and Jesus gave them to his followers which reach us here. Since this is the occasion of our final Sunday, the instruction I give you this morning is instruction that every leader of any time could offer and it will never be inappropriate or outdated. God sent it through time through Christ and as a result desires that we carry it through our days until the end of time.
The treasures in the sand of time that Jesus speaks about in Mark 12 are drawn from the old era.
1. Love is the message
Jesus was hosting a theological discussion with the leading religious teachers and scholars. Upon hearing the lively exchange of discussion and debate, and noticing Jesus’ sharp and contemporary teaching, one of the scholars threw in his questions – “of all the commandments, which one is the most important?” (Verse 28) Jesus responded in Mark 12:29-30…
When Jesus spoke the greatest commandment he added a second to it. The lesson was so important that he joined them together as being inseparable, even going so far as to say that no other command was as important as these two. You mean, even the Ten Commandments of Exodus, given to Moses by God, are not more important than these? Here’s the fascinating lesson concerning all this! To “love God with…” captures the message of the first four of the Ten Commandments and “Love your neighbor…” captures the message of the last six of the Ten Commandments. By doing this Jesus brought the Old Covenant law into the New Covenant life! These instructions have filtered through the sands of time for people of all ages, of all generations, for all times, to “Love God…” and “Love your neighbor…”
JESUS CAPSUALIZED THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IN TWO COMMANDMENTS!
The first and greatest commandment is,
2. Love God supremely (ring)
Richard Gere and Sean Connery co-stared in First Knight, a 1995 production featuring the life and times of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The movie impressed me with the sense of loyalty that Lancelot (Gere) held for King Arthur (Connery). Lancelot put his life on the line for King Arthur with no thought of the danger of putting his life on the line. To die for the King was not a choice – it was a natural order of life. It paints a picture for me of the depth of loyalty and love that God should expect from me, from all of us as his loyal subjects.
The images of bowing in submission, with respect and with deep love, visually represent the message Jesus was seeking to impart in his interaction and dialogue with the people. Jesus was quoting from the book of Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. He was citing from the Torah or the Holy Scriptures that the Jewish people read. This was their book of instruction from God before the time of the new covenant, the New Testament. The instruction was to love God supremely which is to love him extremely, completely, enormously, absolutely, superlatively, utterly, totally; it is to love him in highest rank or authority. It is to consider death for him as quickly as it is to desire life IN him.
To reinforce the need to love God supremely, Jesus drew the Old Testament Commandment, to “Love God with…” into the New Covenant. This is worship at its finest! We worship God most excellently when we spend all week focusing on what pleases him. When there is harmony at home, godly behaviour at school, or our jobs; we worship God best when we are careful about how we hang out with our friends, or control what’s pumping through our ipods or use discretion in the movies we watch. Then, when we come to a fellowship gathering like this one, having lived to pleased God all week, we experience something special in community. It doesn’t just happen though. It is the by-product of a focused heart and mind – focused on God.