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The greatest commandments

January 10, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:28-31

Deuteronomy 6:5
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.

Leviticus 19
18 You must not take revenge nor hold a grudge against any of your people; instead, you must love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

Mark 12
28 One of the legal experts heard their dispute and saw how well Jesus answered them. He came over and asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength [Deuteronomy 6:5]. 31 The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18]. No other commandment is greater than these.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Scholar William Barclay noted that rabbis in Jesus’ day disagreed. Some believed “there were lighter and weightier matters of the law… great principles which were all-important to grasp.” Others “held that every smallest principle was equally binding.” * Jesus didn’t hesitate when asked about that—he said some principles are central, far more vital than others. Loving God and loving your neighbor, Jesus said, are the greatest commandments, the defining expressions of what God wants.

  • Asked which commandment was “most important,” Jesus quoted Deuteronomy six’s sweeping words: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Didn’t leave much out, did it? But was that a way to earn God’s favor? No—if your children ask, “Why love God?” “Tell them: We were… slaves in Egypt. But the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand” (Deuteronomy 6:21). We simply return the love God had for us first. Why does it matter to know that God initiated this love relationship?
  • The second verse Jesus called one of the “great commandments” was “You must love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Leviticus 19:34 made that broader than just natural human affections. What has helped you learn that loving others as Jesus commanded is impossible over the long haul, that only as God’s love makes you inwardly healthy can you truly love anyone else?
Prayer

Dear God, you know that it’s not always natural for me to love. Please keep loving me as I stretch and grow in my ability to reflect your amazing, mind-stretching love to others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar is the Community Assistance Coordination Director in Resurrection's Congregational Care Ministry. She is married and loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys writing and photography.

I tend to doubt simple things. I always think something complicated it going to jump out at me, or that there has to be more. It’s a failing that can rob me of joy and actually make simple things complicated. I usually do this by asking a lot of questions. Often these questions have no answers, because, well, it is something simple. And, by trying my best to turn the answer into something complicated, I lose the joy and the blessing of the simple thing.

In today’s Scripture, people who loved making things complicated asked Jesus what they thought was a loaded question. “What commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this. You will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

Simple. Love God by showing love to all the other struggling, imperfect souls God created. Love what God loves and you love God. Simple but so easy to complicate. Jesus didn’t say anything about loving people by telling them everything they were doing wrong and how to do it better. He very definitely did not tell us to only love the neighbor who was worthy of that love. He knew that would limit the list of neighbors to no one, including us! He meant for us to love the rest of humanity the way he loves us, sacrificially, with grace and not judgment, no strings attached.

Accepting that loving God and our neighbor is as simple (not necessarily easy, but simple) as that will give us the joy that loving and being close to the Lord our God brings.

Lord, help me learn to accept the simplicity and joy that comes from loving you, your word, your people, and even myself. Amen

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Mark (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 294.