28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘ The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.’ 37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) The greatest commandments are familiar to us. Jesus said this summarizes the whole duty of man. As the greatest commandments, they encompass all the others. Love the Lord and love your neighbor. But do we actually do them? Even the scribe who asked Jesus the question knew the answer and agreed with Jesus. And yet he was part of the group challenging Jesus and questioning his authority. He did not love the Lord with heart, soul, mind, and strength. The heart is the very core of your being, your controlling desires and personality. Do you love the Lord way down there? Is it the secret foundation behind everything you do? Soul and mind here refer to the faculties of your thinking and emotions. Strength emphasizes the body. The idea here is a wholistic love for the Lord from every part of your being. Love for the Lord undergirds everything you do. It’s not limited to the regular acts of devotion we should be doing (i.e. public worship, daily Bible reading and prayer, etc). It should be the controlling motive for all that you do in life. You love your spouse out of love for the Lord. You love your children out of love for the Lord. You work hard in your job because you work for the Lord. In all these relationships, there are times when it may be hard to love, but love for the Lord carries you through. You resist temptations to sin because you love the Lord. He made you. He redeemed you. He loves you. He calls you to obedience because it’s good for you. What other response is there to such a God other than whole-hearted love?
2) The second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself. This is a natural fruit of love for the Lord. If you love the Lord, you will become like him, and learn to love what he loves. And it’s important to remember that “love” isn’t simply an emotional feeling of affection or attachment. Ultimately, love is a commitment. You love your neighbor by doing them good and working for their benefit, whether you feel like it or not, and whether they show gratitude or not. Christ is the ultimate example of loving his neighbors. Every action he took in life was driven by love for God and neighbor. Such love moved him to drive out the money-changers from the temple, to minister to the poor and needy, and to stand against the corrupt teachings and practices of the religious leaders.
3) Finally, Jesus commended the scribe for his insight into these commands. And said, “you are not far from the kingdom”. Sadly, “not far” is not the same as “in”. The scribe still lacked one important thing, saving faith in Christ. And Jesus confronted the challenges of from the religious leaders with his own challenge, asking them how David, in Psalm 110, could call his own son “Lord”? In the ancient world, fathers were always greater than sons, and in Israel David was considered the greatest king and father of the royal dynasty. So how could David bow down to a future son? The leaders had no answer to this mystery. They had failed to see that the Messiah was more than a mere son of David, but God himself, coming down as a man to redeem his people. The religious leaders of that day were not looking for the right kind of Messiah, a king that David himself could worship as his redeemer.