The Greatest Commandment

Read: Mark 12:28-34

Which commandment is the most important of all? (v. 28)

Have you ever walked up to a group of people in the middle of a conversation? It can take a while to catch up. You hear them talking about someone or some event, but because they’re already in the conversation, they know just what they’re talking about it. How long would it be before you felt you understood enough to start speaking? You’d have to listen for a while to get enough clues to understand.

Jesus’s ministry began in the middle of a theological conversation. There are hundreds of commands in the law of God. For centuries, Jewish teachers had debated which was the greatest and most important. There was universal agreement on the greatest commandment—love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30; see Deut. 6:5). However, there was significant disagreement on which commandment ranked second. Some argued for keeping the Sabbath (Exod. 20:8-11), while others argued for loving your neighbor (Lev. 19:18). So, when asked which commandment is greatest, Jesus was invited to join a centuries-old conversation.

When asked to get to the heart of God’s law, Jesus turned to two commands to love: we are to love God above all else and with all that we are, and we should love our neighbors. Those who heard Jesus’s answer saw the wisdom in him. Though Jesus entered the conversation as it was going, he spoke the truth. When we consider the heart of what God requires from us, we do well to hear these words of Jesus.

As you pray, ask Jesus to help you to love God and your neighbor.

About the Author

Stephen Shaffer is the pastor at Bethel Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario.

This entry is part 6 of 31 in the series Looking to Jesus