Thursday, 24 May 2012
Mark 12:28-34 - Love God, love others
Here's a guy who asks Jesus an interesting and sincere question, hoping for a reasonable and insightful answer. He probably doesn't yet realise Jesus is God in the flesh - the messiah predicted throughout the Old Testament but he's clearly intrigued enough to ask an honest question. It's exactly the kind of heart Jesus is looking for. The other religious people are too religious to see the truth but this guy loves God more than his religion and is ready to learn.
And this time, Jesus doesn't need to answer with another question to expose any hidden agenda because there isn't one. He answers clearly and directly. Loving God and loving others. These two commands come from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18 and Jesus says these two are the most important ones. In Matthew's account, he records Jesus saying, 'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments' (Matthew 22:40). In other words, everything God expects from his people begins with loving him above all and then loving others like he loves them. Loving God first means learning to love what he loves and this leads to the second one as we learn to love people like God does.
So for example, why is it wrong to tell lies? Well there are lots of reasons but the best reason not to is because we love God and God is truth. There is no falsehood in him and we're learning to love truth like he does. Why is it wrong to murder? Again, there are lots of reasons but the best reason is that we love God and he is the giver of life and we're learning to love and value life as he does. God is looking first of all for us to love him back and be like him and here's one man who is aiming to do just that.
Someone with sincere motives is ready to get real with Jesus and it silences everyone. Who's seriously going to ask another question after that? Certainly not anyone with selfish motives. The Herodians, Pharisees and Sadducees don't dare question him further.
Jesus says this man is not far from his kingdom and I think it's because he's ready to believe what God says, trust in what God's doing and follow wherever God leads. We're not told the rest of this man's story but my best guess is that he later realised who Jesus is, believed his words, trusted in his work on the cross and started following him for the rest of his life.