Reading Mark Together – Mark 12 Living Faith

From reading the Gospels we may be left with the impression that all the religions leaders were opposed to Jesus and out to get him, read Mark 12:38-40 for an example of what Jesus had to say about them. But even amongst those who were opposed to him Jesus reached out in love to draw them to himself. One such person asks Jesus a simple question, or so it seems to us: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” In our minds we may think he is asking which of the 10 Commandments was most important, but the Jewish leaders had identified over 600 commandments from the Old Testament laws, of these about 250 were positive commands and the remainder were prohibitions. Of these commands they had placed greater emphasis on some rather than others.

The scribe is not asking which must we obey and which can we ignore, he was asking which are the foundational commands on which all the other individual commands depend. Jesus replies with the Jewish daily confession known as the Shema. This is based on passages from Deuteronomy and Numbers but mainly on Deuteronomy 6: 4-5. Jews today still consider this their most important prayer and it is repeated twice daily as part of morning and evening prayers.

The scribe replies to affirm what Jesus has said and then goes further to show that there is at least some understanding and support for what Jesus was teaching amongst the religions leaders. He says that to obey the Shema is far more important than the sacrificial system that was around them. The Jewish religious system was built around the sacrificial system, yet here one of their own religions leaders affirms that the heart of love is far more important than the outward actions.

You might have expected Jesus to reply – well done – come and join the gang! Instead he replies “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” Or to put it another way, your not there yet, but you are very close. I suspect this religions leader was confused and maybe upset by Jesus’ reply, he was a good Jew and a religions leader why was he not already in the Kingdom of God, what else was needed? The simple answer is that intellectual agreement with the truth is not enough, it is whether we truly love God with all we are and have and love our neighbours as ourselves, saying we believe this is not sufficient we must live it as well.

Sadly today I believe there are all too many people who may be in the same position as this scribe. Some attend Christian services, some pray, some read the bible, some may even be in positions of leadership within the church. However they have not made the move from head to heart, they agree with the theory, but have not experienced the reality in their own lives. As a Christian leader I feel a great responsibility for that. I have a responsibility not just to convey, explain and teach truth, but to call those who hear to repentance and a living faith that affects how we live Monday to Saturday and not just on Sunday.

Think today of someone you know who may say I agree with all you say, but has not found the reality of a living faith for themselves, then pray for them for the love of Jesus to move the agreement in their head to an experience of his love in their hearts resulting in a changed life.



2 thoughts on “Reading Mark Together – Mark 12 Living Faith

  1. Could not agree more, the Shema is the core of it and I am much comforted by the fact that I now see this love impacting on my “Judgement” of others. Gone is a rigid rule saying ‘not a christian, not saved’ but seeing if they recognise God and His handiwork all around us, and if that impacts upon their relationship with God and me/us.
    I also took comfort many years ago from the changes The Holy Spirit (love) wrought in my attitude to money, wealth, and posessions. We should all welcome, and even plead for these changes in our lives, for this is what it means to be changed by love, to be purified by the refiners fire, so we may be well fitted for eternity with Our Lord, and recieve the crown in Heaven.
    It is a journey of change, of changes of the heart and not only in the head that fits us for our inheritance if we will but only ask for it, and the simile of the journey – The Way’ – is a very apt one.
    May we all increase in our hunger for more of these changes day by day, as we surrender ourselves to the Law of love.

  2. Hi Sandy,

    There is a certain edge with respect to Parable of the Tenants with many killings. Although the Greatest Commandment is a great way for us all.


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