Scripture: Mark 12:28-34
Key verses: (29-31) Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,’ And the second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Reflection: In first century Judaism, faithful people studied scripture by debating and questioning and disagreeing with one another. (Does that make you uncomfortable?) In this passage, Jesus was in the temple in Jerusalem and was having one conversation after another with leaders there. They questioned him, they challenged him, they even tried to trap him. It’s almost like training a boxer or a wrestler – the struggles are how you grow and become strong.
A scribe saw that Jesus was responding well to all of the challenges so he asked Jesus “which commandment is the first of all?” Of all the hundreds of commandments, which one is most important? Jesus gave a familiar answer, to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. He then added a second commandment to love neighbor as self. Apparently these two are interwoven and each depends on the other for completion.
When new members join our church, I share these two commandments as the core of our church’s mission. Everything we do in our ministry is intended to help you love God and love neighbor. We love God as we worship together, we study, we pray, we care for our bodies, we are good stewards of creation, we give generously of our resources. We love our neighbors as we serve one another in ministry. God calls every one of us to live out these two commandments, no matter our circumstance or our location. Where do you need to hone your love? What area needs attention from you today?
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for loving me and for showing me your love in Jesus Christ. Shape my life to be more like Christ. Teach me to love you with all that I have and all that I am. Teach me to love my neighbors. Through Christ I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].