Summary: Pentecost 23(B) - Believers ask which is the greatest commandment learning to listen first and then also learning that love fulfills God’s law.
WHICH COMMANDMENT IS THE GREATEST?
Mark 12:28-34 - October 23, 2005 - Pentecost 23
Dear Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
Inquiring minds want to know. Our minds and the minds of the rest of mankind are very inquisi-tive. We spend a lot of our life learning. The things that we don’t know about we research to learn even more as we find answers. It starts out at an early age, doesn’t it? We go to school very early and learn the letters of the alphabet. Then we continue and learn that all those 26 letters can be arranged to make words. Then the words can be arranged to make sentences and paragraphs and stories. From there we learn that this world is full of knowledge. We ask lots of questions that we might discover the answers for our inquiring minds. All of this knowledge searching takes place in our day-to-day living, our earthly life. As believers we also want to learn more in connection with our spiritual life. We start out with the very basics. We go to Sunday school and learn about creation and sin. In confirmation we begin to memorize the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed. When we go to Bible study and we find out there still is always something more to discover in the word of God. There is something more the Holy Spirit wishes to reveal to us.
So it is today we gather that God would speak to us through His Word. It all begins with the ba-sics. Peter wrote in his letter: "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good" (1 Peter 2:2,3). We praise God today that each one of has tasted that the Lord is good! We are going to come before the Lord like this teacher in the law and ask him: Which is the greatest commandment? If we didn’t want to learn about the greatest commandment or we didn’t know anything about the Lord, we wouldn’t even come and ask him about which is the greatest commandment. But we do approach God realizing when we ask:
WHICH IS THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT?
I. We listen first to the Lord our God
II. We learn that love fulfills God’s laws
I. WE LISTEN FIRST TO THE LORD OUR GOD
Verse 28 at the very beginning of our text says: "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating." Jesus was debating (as we heard in our Gospel Lesson) with the Sadducees. We may have to remind ourselves of the leaders in the church. There were the Sadducees, the Pharisees and the scribes (writers). They are called a teacher or scribe in the original text, a writer. They had heard Jesus debating with the Sadducees, one of the leading groups. What did this scribe notice? "Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’"
But what was the answer that Jesus had given the Sadducees? The Sadducees came to Jesus with a hypothetical question. They said, "A woman was married and her husband died." The Levitical law stated that the husband’s brother should marry her and carry on the family name and provide for her. The Sadducees said there were seven brothers and she married them all. "Now in the resurrection who is her husband?" Jesus answered, "In the resurrection in heaven there is no marring and giving in marriage." The Sadducees were not really concerned about that, were they, because they did not believe in a resur-rection. Imagine that! As leaders in the church, they did not believe in heaven, the resurrection.
It was this scribe who noticed that Jesus had given the good answer. Jesus was not trapped with misleading question about marriage in the resurrection. Jesus’ answer was about the fact that God was the Lord of the living, not of the dead. This scribe wants to listen to the Lord. He asked, "Which is the great-est commandment?" Jesus responded, "’The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ’is this: Hear, O Is-rael, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’" Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament. This quote is one of the first sayings that the children of Israel learned from little on: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one." Jesus reminded him there was no other God. It was the Lord God Almighty who had created the heavens and the earth. It was the Lord God Almighty that sent his Son to redeem mankind.
This scribe agrees. He is listening first to what the Lord has to say. Verse 32: "’Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ’You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.’" How amazing that this scribe, this teacher of the law, who was so involved with the law was able to see and understand the Gospel.