The Greater Commandments

How does the way of love in Christ begin? Jesus told us of the greatest commandments. He answered a question posed to Him in Mark 12. A scribe asked Him to rank the rules of God in order of importance.

The questioner was familiar with the Word for sure. He worked as a copyist. These were­ letters he had read and replicated again and again. He spent his days with the Scriptures opened before his eyes.

How many times had this man applied the ink to a page with skill and with precision? He took such care to manage every stroke of his quill. And still he was lost.

Many had badgered Jesus with their queries on that day. He was asked about Roman taxes and of life after resurrection. They were trying to goad the Lord into saying something out of order, something they could use to get Him in trouble.

The Son was too wise, however. His answers baffled them and stopped their mouths. He told them the Truth, and there was nothing for them to twist or distort.

The scribe caught hold of this and asked, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

The Savior began His answer this way:  “The most important is, Hear, O Israel the Lord our God the Lord is One” (Mark 12:29).

The Voice

It was a most particular and personal answer directed right to this man straight from Deuteronomy 6. As a scribe, he had done much reading and writing of the Word. Could he hear the Voice behind it all? Was he able to listen with his heart as he wrote out the oracles delivered from Heaven to the people chosen as His witnesses?

“Hear.” Jesus pointed to this as the key. The Word matters. The Word, spoken from God, brought Light to what was dark, empty, chaotic in Genesis 1. All that we know and see and feel began when He spoke. And those sentences were irresistible. The heavens and earth and seas took their places and then were filled with stars, planets, trees, plants, and creatures.

The holy heart is given to the one who takes heed to what he hears. The truth is that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, according to Romans 10:17. Click To Tweet

In the listening to Him and His Voice, things are made and things also come together. That’s the next point Jesus makes. One, the Lord our God is One. He is all and in all.

The Genesis stories were given and written down to show this. Everything about Creation began in the mind of the Lord and was organized according to His wisdom. All that is, was, and will be is according to His good pleasure.

And so if we can hear Him and recognize that we are made by Him and for Him to be one with Him then we have a beginning. Such thoughts, if we let them, will stir us to awe and reverence — something the Bible identifies as fear, a holy honor that can enjoy the beauty of holiness.

This brings us back to love. Beauty is such part of love. I am not talking about beauty as defined by human culture, but beauty as God sees it. The Lord looks upon the heart and real beauty begins there.

The holy heart is given to the one who takes heed to what he hears. The truth is that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, according to Romans 10:17.

The way of love begins when we listen to God. We answer the call of Christ to come unto Him who is the way, the truth, and the life. We love because He first loved us, and He died for us while we were still dead in sin.

Jesus made it clear about what commands really matter and make a difference in us. Hearing Him and seeing our oneness with Him are just the start.

The Whole of Our Holiness

Back to Mark 12, Jesus continued His answer:  “And you shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In the original Greek text, all of these sayings are to be taken together. A short conjunction — kai — communicates that there is to be wholeness, a unity, a complex totality to our loving the Lord.

All of the different things about us should come together — what we feel, what we know and think, what we hear, say and do. These things are to be in balance and in order. Otherwise, we are false and an abomination to Him, so says Proverbs 11:1.

What is the result of this love to the Lord, of this beauty of holiness? It is the second great commandment, said Jesus:  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Hear the Voice of God. Be made One with Him. Love from your heart and from your head and with your smile and with your arms.

Hear God’s Voice in the voice of your neighbor. See others as those He longs to receive His love and be helped into oneness with Him. Think no evil. Believe the best. Help, heal, protect, feed, care, and reach toward the widow and the orphan and the outcast.

The conclusion of the matter, Jesus said, “There is no commandment greater than these.”

The scribe was impressed. “You are right, Teacher.” He saw that these love commands were “much more than whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And Jesus noted the scribe’s response and said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

Did this man take the step across the line? Did he choose to follow the narrow way that leads to life eternal?

We don’t get that information. Like so many Bible stories, the neat and tidy, “they lived happily ever after” ending is left out.

This is an important thing about the Bible, I think. It’s relevant because real life is real life. Ours is a messy world and always has been. The whole Mark 12 scene was discombobulated. This scribe happened upon the mayhem and was struck by the disorder in and around the religious system he operated under.

Perhaps, he wondered, “Who could make sense of the Law of God? Who could bring definition?” He sought a clear answer and a certain sound.

The scribe did get this from Jesus:  “There is no commandment greater than these.”

Hear the one true God and love Him with everything you’ve got. Take that same love and share it with everyone around you.

This is the way of the Gospel.



Steve Andrulonis
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