Love First. Then The Rules Might Make Sense.

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com

June 3, 2021

Memorial of St Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

I’ve spoken before and how the small things in the Scriptures mean so much. If we are always looking at the big stuff, we miss some mighty good stuff.

Today, it’s another small thing. As we have been working our way through the scriptures, we have been inundated with the Pharisees and the Sadducees coming to Jesus with trick questions trying to catch him saying something against the law – the rules.

But, Jesus is too aware of their humanity and all that entails because he too is human – but without the baggage of sin.

Imagine how Jesus felt today. A solitary scribe comes to him and asks, “which is the greatest of all the Commandments?”

Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Take a moment and imagine what Jesus was waiting for. He was probably awaiting some silly question meant to trick him.

It’s not what he gets.

The scribe acknowledges how great Jesus is in what he has said.

And Jesus praises the scribe by saying he is not far from the Kingdom of God.

Notice, the small difference in the way Jesus reacts – praise for the seeking or real knowledge.

Jesus doesn’t say anything about following rules. He says we first need to be spiritual. We are to love. Love God with everything we are but not just that – but to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

This can be difficult – this loving others as we love ourselves. You see, as Christians we are all too aware of our faults. So to love others while we don’t really love ourselves is an empty thing. We have to accept who we are and that means all that we aren’t.

We can’t get caught up in all the rules – especially, manmade – without becoming the Pharisees and Sadducees ourselves. Where is the good in being a rule follower when we have no capacity for love.

It’s the little things. Learn first to love because without love, the rules mean nothing.

At least that’s what I heard Him say…

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