The greatest commandment

This is written by Shane Beales who is the Worship Pastor at St Mary's.

Mark 12:28-44

The greatest commandment
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?'

29 'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." 31 The second is this: "Love your neighbour as yourself." There is no commandment greater than these.'

32 'Well said, teacher,' the man replied. 'You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.'

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.' And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Whose son is the Messiah?
35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, 'Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:

"'The Lord said to my Lord:
  ‘Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet."'

37 David himself calls him "Lord". How then can he be his son?'

The large crowd listened to him with delight.

Warning against the teachers of the law
38 As he taught, Jesus said, 'Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the market-places, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. 40 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.'

The widow’s offering
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few pence.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on.'

Reflection

Katriona and I are proud to be parents of our daughter Ada. We love her. Even when she is waking us up in the middle of the night, relieving herself on us (it's happened more than once!) or demanding that CBeebies is the only TV channel we watch, we can't help but love her. There are others who I find it a lot harder to love, however we know that 'God is love' and God loves each one of us completely despite how undeserving we may feel about this.

How can we love more like this?

I remember when Ada was born that the first breath of her life began with her inhaling air for the first time. She then exhaled with a newborn cry that I shall never forget (and have heard many times since)!

In the same way, we are taught in the bible that 'we love because he first loved us' (1 John 4:19). Before we can love anybody else, we need to first inhale a fresh burst of the love God has for us. We were made to continually receive and give love as naturally as breathing and the more of God’s love we are able to receive the better we will be at loving others.

In the passage there are three people we are commanded to love: God, Others and Ourselves. I find that often the hardest person to love is myself. It is only when I receive God's love afresh that in turn I start to feel better about myself. What's interesting is that when I am rested in this frame of mind I also find it easier and more natural to love others as well.

I pray that we may all find space to breath in God's love afresh today.

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