What I’m Thinking: Greatest Commandments

Jesus said that knowing the greatest commandments brought us near to the realm of God. So… what brings us into the realm of God?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the twelfth chapter of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 12:28-34). Throughout the chapter twelve, Jesus had been in conversations with the religious leadership in the Jerusalem Temple: with priests, with scribes, with teachers, with lawyers, with all the people who knew about Israel’s ancient faith and about its contemporary practice there in the Temple.

Mark describes it as, well, not a very collegial kind of conversation. Frequently, Mark says that people came up to Jesus to test him or to trap him. But in verse 28, someone else comes along, a scribe who saw that Jesus had answered them well. And this person decided to ask what is the central question of Jewish faith: What is the Greatest Commandment?

Jesus replied, “The greatest commandment is this: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength. The second is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself.”

The scribe affirmed the answer. “You are right teacher, that to love God and to love your neighbor is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And he said this within the Temple in which those offerings and sacrifices were made.

Jesus sent that affirmation right back. “You are not far from the realm of God.” And, Mark added that after that nobody dared to ask Jesus any questions.

Love God. Love your neighbor. It is a refrain that you will find over and over again in the Scriptures of the Hebrew people, in the Scriptures of the Christians. Love God. Love your neighbor. And this, said Jesus, brings us not far from the realm of God.

What is it that takes into the realm of God? Well, I suspect it is the question that the scribe might have answered next – or might have asked next – which is: How does one fully love our God? How does one fully love our neighbor?

How do we see that we are fully open to our Creator? How do we ensure that our neighbors are housed and fed and clothed? You see, these are the points at which human beings tend to falter, tend to fumble.

And yet, we know: we know what the goal is, and that does mean that we are not far from the realm of God.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , , | Posted on October 25, 2021

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