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From The Great Commandments to Great Commitment

April 27, 2014

Topic: Special Service Passage: Mark 12:28–12:31

In the 3 verses in Mark 12:28-31, we read about what God wants us to do, which will change us and the people around us vastly.

The settings

  • The scribe had a question for Jesus, and sought to discredit Jesus. 
  • This scribe is probably part of the Pharisees who concluded there are a total of 613 commandments: 248 positive and 365 negative ones.
  • This chapter gives us Jesus' answer and more -- 2 commandments, 2 challenges, 1 essential virtue

The two great commandments

The first is in verses 29-30, which was from Deuteronomy. It was a reminder to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. 

  • He also included how to love God -- by using all our soul, all our mind and all our strength. This love for God is not a half-hearted effort.
  • But what does this mean for us? Love is not just a noun but also a verb. We can't say we love God without really loving God.
  • This means putting away all other contenders and competitors for our love (Exodus 20:3). Idols can be our jobs, material possessions and even people.
  • It also means putting His commandments first (John 14:15, Eph 4:31-32)

 

The second commandment is to love our neighbour as ourselves. 

  • This is a very hard commandment. 
  • People have a difficult interpretation of neighbour - people like themselves or fellow believer. People like tax collectors, prostitutes are not neighbours. According to their code, there is no loving, only loathing.
  • However, a neighbour is just someone who is near you. It could be a sinner.
  • Love the people around you as strongly and as passionately as we love ourselves.

What does this mean? 

  • It means putting God's commands into action. 
  • It means putting interests of others ahead of your own (Php 2:1-4)

Challenges 

1. False theology (teachings) 

  • The scribe acknowledged Jesus as teacher (a high status in that time); at that time, it was difficult for the Pharisees to understand Jesus as God's son because Jesus was son of David (even David addressed Jesus as Lord). 
  • But as Acts 4:12 reminds us, Jesus is the only way to be saved. 

2. Flagrant hypocrisy

One essential virtue 

Faithful piety (v.41-44) 

  • It is not the amount contributed but the commitment behind it

Application

  • Love God 
  • Love our neighbour 
  • Love one another 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)