WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
(Scripture teaches us how to love)
Mark 12:28-34, Leviticus 19:18, & Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
In Leviticus 19, in GOD’s instructions on “holiness in our personal behavior”, in verse 18, HE commands us to never seek personal revenge, or hold a grudge against anyone, but instead, we should “love our neighbor as we love our own selves”. And so when JESUS commanded us to do the same some 1500 years later (John 15:12-17), HE was not issuing us a new command. HE was just warning us to start obeying an old law of HIS FATHER GOD, WHO is in Heaven. However, HE was also giving us the “heads-up” on how HE HIMSELF would judge us upon HIS return, and by what criterion HE mainly would use to do so (Matthew 25:31-46).
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we find recorded, the first part of the Jewish “Shema”, which was recited twice daily by devout Jewish followers of GOD. This verbal ritual, if you will, stresses the unity of GOD, and the importance of loving GOD and living by HIS Laws. Parts two and three can be found in Deuteronomy 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41, respectively. And so when JESUS recited it in Mark 12 and in Matthew 22, He was reciting something that was very familiar to the Jewish hierarchy in Israel.
In Mark chapter 12, verses 28-34, one of the teachers of religious law, probably a Pharisee, was standing close by, listening to JESUS’ answer to the Sadducees, regarding the resurrection. The Sadducees were a group of wealthy Jewish men who prided themselves as being experts in the knowledge of religious law. They also did not believe there would be a resurrection of life after death.
After seeing JESUS handily defend the Word of GOD against these misguided scholars, this particular teacher, who apparently had more insight than the others, poses this question of his own to JESUS, when he asks, “Which is the first commandment of all? Here, the Greek word translated “which”, is “poios”, and it means “what kind of”. The Greek word translated “first”, “protos”, means “most important”. And so, here, JESUS is being asked, in effect, “Which is the most important commandment?” JESUS begins by reciting the opening line, of the first part of the three-part “Shema”. “Hear old Israel; the LORD our GOD is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
To love the LORD THY GOD with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength calls for a thorough and total commitment to GOD that is both personal, and, whole of heart. It speaks to the whole of humanity, personally, and here is a breakdown: We must commit with;
· “The whole Heart” (that which dominates our thought pattern), the center of human life,
· “The whole Soul”, which is the self-conscience life of all men,
· “The whole mind”, which is the entire thought process of man (our sanity, or mental capabilities)
· “The whole strength”, or, entire physical power of man.
In other words, we should love GOD with every fiber of our being.
The following is what is covered in the first four commandments (see Exodus 20:3-11), where GOD tells us, in effect, that our love for HIM must be;
· totally loyal (verse 3),
· totally faithful (verse 6),
· totally trusting (verse 7),
· show total reverence to GOD at all times (verse 8).
Next, JESUS states that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is the concept of the remaining six commandments (Exodus -17);
· If we love each other, we can certainly begin with honoring our own parents.
· If we love each other, we are not likely to intentionally, or maliciously take another’s life, which by the way, is made in the image of GOD.
· If we love each other, we will not commit adultery against our spouse with another person.
· If we love each other, we won’t steal from each other.
· If we love each other, we won’t lie on each other, or falsely accuse each other.
· And finally, if we love each other, we won’t jealously desire anything that belongs to someone else.
And so I guess, in summation, JESUS is saying that, everything, that GOD commands us to do, is of the utmost importance to HIM. And that the Ten Commandments can really be viewed as being only two. And both of them, or all ten of them, are of equal importance to GOD. When we come to love GOD, we then understand more clearly how we can love one another, because we are, after all is said and done, made in the image of GOD.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website