Mark – God is On Our Side!
Love God. Love Others. In that order. Revolutionary.
Love deletes hate and settles debates.
We love God because He first loved us. We learn how to love deeply and relentlessly from God. We see the unconditional love, mercy and grace of God when we gaze upon the cross of Jesus Christ. God’s continued love for us shows up daily if we pause in our busyness to recognize the moments of His hand on us. God’s love runs deeper than we can imagine. God’s love surrounds us and never lets go. God’s love is in me. God’s love is in you. God’s love is eternal. Forever.
We can’t change it, forfeit it, or let God’s love for us go. We might disregard it, lay it aside and forget it for a while, but we can’t abolish it. God’s love is reckless, relentless and unchanging. We can’t morph His love into what we think it should be. God’s love just is. God is the great and only I AM. And He is Love.
Can we ever hope to love each other like that? We must strive to do so, for in doing so, God smiles on our efforts. To love others is equal to loving Him back. Love comes from God. His love expressed to our “neighbors” all over the world comes full circle back to Him.
Yes, we love God because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) The more we realize the great depth of God’s love for us, the greater depth our love will be for each other.
Love God. Love Others. This is the revolutionary idea of love that Jesus is talking about that is unlike what the world offers.
Mark 12, NLT
The Most Important Commandment
28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”
34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
THE GAME TURNED TO LOVE
The scribes had determined that the Jews were obligated to obey 613 precepts in the law, 365 negative precepts and 248 positive. One of their favorite exercises was discussing which of these divine commandments was the greatest.
The Lord quoted Deuteronomy 6:4–5, the great confession of faith that even today pious Jews recite each morning and evening. It is called the “Shema” from the first word of the confession which means “hear.” Then He quoted Leviticus 19:18, which emphasizes love for one’s neighbor. Jesus made love the most important thing in life, because “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8–10).
If we love God, we will experience His love within and will express that love to others. We do not live by rules but by relationships, a loving relationship to God that enables us to have a loving relationship with others.
When he started this conversation, the scribe was only the tool of the Pharisees who were trying to get evidence against Jesus (note Matt. 22:35). But after he heard our Lord’s answer, the scribe stood and dared to commend the Lord for His reply. The Word had spoken to the man’s heart, and he was beginning to get a deeper spiritual understanding of the faith he thought he understood. Even the Old Testament Scriptures taught that there was more to the Jewish religion than offering sacrifices and keeping laws (see 1 Sam. 15:22; Ps. 51:16–17; 141:1–2; Jer. 7:22–23; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6–8).
What does it mean when a person is “not far from the kingdom of God”? It means he or she is facing truth honestly and is not interested in defending a “party line” or even personal prejudices. It means the person is testing his or her faith by what the Word of God says and not by what some religious group demands. People close to the kingdom have the courage to stand up for what is true even if they lose some friends and make some new enemies.
Look to God’s Word and listen to His Holy Spirit as we read. Let’s us be God’s Kingdom-thinking people. Recognize His love for us then love well.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
We do love you with all that is in us. Help us to love each other in the same ways as you love us. Give us your power to love well without conditions. May our relationships with each other go deeper in Your love because of realizing and recognizing your love abiding in us. Thank you for your love.
In Jesus Name, Amen