Sermon: And After That

November 4, 2018
Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 12:28-34

“After that no one dared to ask him any question.”


I’d like to think I’d have lots of questions. This conversation with the scribe comes after a series of attempts by various religious leaders to trap Jesus into some kind of unpopular statement. They’d tried to get him to make some comment on Roman taxation, and he turned the question around. They’d tried to get him to say something about life in the resurrection, and he’d told them the entire premise of the question was wrong.

That impressed this scribe – he would have been an expert in the Scriptures, someone consulted frequently for his opinion on how to live a faithful life – so he approached Jesus, not with a trap, but with a classic question that would begin a respectful discussion between teachers of the faith.

“Which commandment is first of all?”

One way you can tell that this was an earnest, respectful question was that Jesus answered it. When people tried to trap Jesus, he turned the questions around, but not here. He went right back to the heart of the Jewish faith. First, he quoted Deuteronomy 6 as the greatest commandment: “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.” Then he went further than the question to offer the second commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” a quote from Leviticus 19.

This is, perhaps, the least original thing that Jesus ever said. They’re pretty much direct quotes from Scripture. The directive to love God was probably the best-known text of any Jew of the first century or of the twenty-first. The commandment to love the neighbor is so common among world religions and ethical systems that we call it the Golden Rule.

Shouldn’t that have begun the conversation, especially when the scribe agreed? These commandments are the start of faith, of theology, of ethics, of law.

But after that no one dared to ask him any question.

It’s the “after that,” that’s important.

Jesus’ teaching and ministry were all about the “after that” – what does it look like to love God? What does it look like to love the neighbor as yourself? Jesus’ passion for the love of neighbor drove him onto the hard roads of ancient Galilee and Judea, healing people that others dared not touch. Jesus’ passion for the love of neighbor led him to criticize practices that excused some from obligations while burdening others. As we heard last week, Jesus’ passion for love of neighbor led him to stop when he heard the title, “Son of David” – the title of the one to overthrow the Roman occupiers – and heal the man who sought his aid, despite the risk.

Jesus’ love of God would lead him through all that and onto what we’ve come to call the Via Dolorosa, the Road of Sorrow, the road upon which he carried his cross.

After that no one dared to ask him any question. After that, he showed what love is all about.

It’s all about the “after that.”

Where is the “after that” for you or for me? What do we do in the silence after Jesus reminds us of the foundations of our faith? What do we think about when he repeats the commandment to love God so fiercely? What comes to mind when he insists that we love our neighbor as ourselves?

The Rev. Jennifer Brownell writes in the UCC Daily Devotional about a neighbor that she and her family have just never gotten along with:

“We got off on a bad foot all those years ago. To this day, I’ve never been able to love my neighbor. But I keep coming back to these words from Jesus, running my non-love for my neighbor over this passage the way you run your tongue over a rough spot on a tooth. The words still poke.

“Because they poke, I know that Jesus is still speaking these words just for me. I trust he will keep speaking them as long as I need to keep hearing them. So, I’ll keep listening and trying and getting poked and trying again and trusting that one day these beautiful, irritating words will finally make it from my ear into my heart.”

What is our “after that”?

The scribe was not far from the realm of God. That’s what Jesus said. Those other, suddenly silenced questioners, they weren’t so close. They missed their chance. They could have asked: what does it look like to love God, Jesus? They could have asked: how do I love my neighbor when they make it so darned hard to do it?

We don’t need to miss that chance. Mark gave us the chance by recording this story so we could heard Jesus say: Love God. Love your neighbor. In fact, we can hear it over and over again. We’ve got more chances than we need.

And after that? What then? There’s our challenge. There’s our summons. There’s our call.

Break your inner silence. Ask the questions in prayer. Ask the questions in conversation. Ask the questions in work and play.

And then: keep the commandments.

Go out and love.


Listen to the Recorded Sermon:


Once again, the prepared text is, shall we say, a departure point for the sermon as presented. So it goes…

The illustration is “Jesus Walks in the Portico of Solomon” by James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2007, 00.159.177_PS2.jpg, Public Domain,

Categories Sermons | Tags: , | Posted on November 4, 2018

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

Leave a Reply

close window

Service Times & Directions

Sunday School Classes

Sunday 8:45 am

Sunday Worship Service

Sunday 10:00 am

Adult Bible Study

Monday 6:30 pm, Wednesday 9:00 am

(International Young Adults Association)
Bible Study

Wednesday 7:30 pm

The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga

(The Rev. Tevita) Sunday 1:00 pm Wednesday 7:00 pm (Sanctuary)

The United Church of Christ, Pohnpei - Hilo

(The Rev. Ichiro) Sunday 10:00 am (Bdg. of Faith)

The Samoan Church

(The Rev. Sunia) Sunday 4:00 pm (Sanctuary)

440 W. Lanikaula Street
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 935-1283