The Way Forward
The crowd had been watching Jesus perform miracles, preach messages, feed thousands, raise the dead. There was a crush of people on every side of Jesus. There were those who were looking for something more for themselves, some who were looking to discredit the Nazarene rabbi, and those who were earnestly seeking to better know Him and His will for them.
Perhaps thinking to entrap Jesus with another impossible political-religious riddle, Jesus was asked, “Of everything He would have us to do for Him, what is most important?” In other words, what really matters most to Jesus? What does He want from us?
As the question hangs out there for a moment, you can’t help but lean in and almost hold your breath to hear the Master’s response, which we find in Mark 12:30–31: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
This was a radical departure for the devout Jews of Jesus’ day. The common belief was that someone who truly loved the Lord must demonstrate it through the obedience and practice of a multitude of laws and religious standards. There were so many things to do in God’s name it had become complicated for followers of God to figure out what to do. It can get like that sometimes today too.
In response to the query of the Pharisee, Jesus refers back to Deuteronomy in order to point the way forward. Deut. 6:5–7 instructed: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
This was the lost mission for God’s people. Sadly, they had not continued to teach and practice this simple missional mandate. So Jesus brought the people back to His ancient mission, and His words for His followers then are His words for us now.
May our Oregon Conference church family fulfill Jesus’ great commandments by:
- Knowing Jesus and others intimately — connecting in authentic relationship;
- Loving Jesus and others passionately — connecting in transformational community;
- Serving Jesus and others actively — connecting with Jesus’ call and peoples’ needs;
- Sharing Jesus with others enthusiastically — connecting others with Jesus.
Let us ask of everything we do — how are we doing at accomplishing Jesus’ mission, and how can we glorify Him by doing it even better? We can be sure He will continue to show us the way forward.