MARK 12:28-44 (NIV – UK)
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.” [Deuteronomy 6:4-5] 31 The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” [Leviticus 19:18] 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.’” [Psalm 110:1]
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.’
What is the most important thing in the world? The most important thing in your life? The most important thing you could ever do? Jesus states it very plainly and very simply here: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ (v. 30).
We love in a world where there are lots of competing priorities – lots of pressures and things that want to draw our attention and our time. But the very reason that we exist is so that we can enjoy this commandment – to love God – that’s why Jesus puts it as the number one priority. It requires a total giving of ourselves to God – our hearts, our minds, our souls and our strength – everything that we possess is created to be in loving fellowship with him. It is in this commandment that we find our identity as human beings. It’s this commandment that Jesus commands us to make our priority.
And of course, the second greatest commandment, as Jesus tells us is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (v. 31). We must be careful not to try to skip to this commandment before giving our attention to the first. In fact, we cannot love our neighbours in the way God intends without us first being in loving relationship with God. It is with the love of God that we are to love others.
Question: Do you feel as if there are competing priorities in your life? How can you make sure God is first in everything you do?