31 Mar. Mark 12:28-34

31 Mar. Which is the most important commandment?

"One of the teachers of the [Jewish] law came and heard Jesus arguing with the Sadducees. Seeing that Jesus gave good answers to their questions, he asked Jesus, 'Which of the commandments is the most important?'"

"Jesus answered, 'The most important command is this: "Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength." And the second [most important] command is, "Love your neighbour as you love yourself." There are no commands more important than these.'"

"The man answered, 'That was a good answer, Teacher. You were right when you said God is the only Lord and there is no other God besides him. One must love God with all his heart, all his mind and all his strength. And one must love his neighbours as he loves himself. These commands are more important than all the animals and sacrifices we offer to God.'"

"When Jesus saw that the man answered him wisely, Jesus said to him, 'You are close to the kingdom of God.' And after that, no one was brave enough to ask Jesus any more questions."

          (Mark 12:28-34)

 

 

As Jesus taught in the courtyards of the Temple in the days before his last Passover supper, one of the teachers of the Jewish law asked Jesus which was the most important commandment.

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30) (see Deuteronomy 6:4-5). “The second command is this: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’.” (Mark 12:31) (see Leviticus 19:18).

The teacher congratulated Jesus, adding, “These commands are more important than all the animals and sacrifices we offer to God” (Mark 12:33).

Jesus commended the man's answers and told him, "You are close to the kingdom of God." (Mark 12:34)

The only problem with the man's answer was the Jewish interpretation of the command "Love your neighbour" which Jesus had quoted from Leviticus 19:18. To most Jews of Jesus's day (and to many in Israel today), "love your neighbour" meant "love your Jewish neighbour", and this allowed them to hate and despise their non-Jewish Palestinian and Samaritan neighbours.

The Jews of Jesus's day were ultra-nationalistic (like many Zionist Jews today). They felt that Israel was a nation for Jews only, and non-Jews living in the region had no part to play in the nation-state. They despised all 'foreign' neighbours (as many still do today) and their great desire was to get rid of the Romans who had taken over direct rule of Judaea.

But before we criticise the Jews of Jesus's day and those in Israel today, we ought to think about our OWN hostile attitudes to 'foreigners' and the rampant nationalism in our own UK society today.

Jesus encouraged his followers to regard people of ALL races and nations as their brothers and sisters. Yet today, we regard 'foreigners' with suspicion and sometimes outright hostility. It is reckoned that many people in the UK voted to leave the European Union in the 'Brexit' referendum of 2016 largely because they were opposed to large-scale migration into Britain from other EU countries.

Many UK Christians today don't want to be governed by EU laws because they were 'made by foreigners' (even though British MEPs had as much say in making these laws as other EU states). And we have frequently come across the opinion that the EU is a 'bad thing' because "we pay in more than we get back".

Part of the rationale behind the EU has always been for the richer nations of Western Europe (including the UK) to help the poorer nations of Eastern Europe to improve their economies and their standards of living, Yet many Christians regard this as 'unfair' and want at least as much back from the EU as the UK government paid in.

Extreme nationalism has NO place in God's agenda. His kingdom has room for people of ALL races and ALL nationalities, and to God, there is no difference between people from France, Germany, Poland or the UK - they are all God's children and are loved unconditionally by him.

As Paul said in his letter to the Christians in Rome (centre of the 'European Union' of his day), "ALL people are the same: ALL have sinned and are not good enough for God's glory." (Romans 3:23-24) We are ALL God's dearly loved children. So how can we despise our European neighbours, many of whom are our Christian brothers and sisters? "Some of us are Jews, and some are Greeks. Some of us are slaves, and some are free. But we were all baptised into one body through one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

The photo (by THOR) shows the national flags of England and the United Kingdom on display at Portsea.

You can read more about Jesus's teaching during 'Holy Week' @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/6…/paying-taxes-to-caesar/


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