With Valentine’s Day coming up, let’s focus on God’s love in our messages for the next few weeks.
LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF. Mark12:28 –
“One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, “HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 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.’ The second is this, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28 – 34.
The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM; 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 HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.” MARK 12:28-34 (NASB)
Use your imagination for a moment. Imagine that Jesus Christ is walking up to your front door. He stands and looks at you and smiles. There is a love connection eye-to-eye between you and Jesus. You know that you can ask Him only one question. What will that question be? What are you going to ask Jesus Christ?
You would hope in asking this question that for once and for all, your hurts and anxieties would be taken away. You would hope you would receive an answer that you could base your whole life on. In a very real sense, it did happen to a scribe. He asks, “What is the greatest thing I can do to bring me happiness?”
Spiritually, a scribe usually represents the thoughts that come to us from the world. They are forms of thoughts not from the inspiration of God. Now, if you look at the outer appearance in all things, especially scripture—you just read the letter exactly the way it is and do not see what it means spiritually–that is a scribe. Jesus talked about the importance of spiritual interpretation—a spiritual interpretation goes beyond the word to the spirit of what is meant by that word.
On a literal level, the scribes copied down everything in the outer. They copied down each letter. After the Jews returned from exile, they formed communities of scribes to preserve and circulate the scriptures. Before a scribe began his work each day, he would dip his pen in ink. At the top of the page he would write, “amalec.” He would then cross that out, hold his pen upright and say, “I am writing the Torah in the name of its sanctity and in the name of God in its sanctity.”
The scribe would read a sentence, repeat it aloud and then write it down. Every time he came to the name of God, he would say, “I am writing the name of God for the holiness of His name.” If he made an error in writing God’s name, he had to destroy the entire sheet of velum or papyrus he was using.
After the scribe finished copying a particular book, he would count every single word and the letters it contained. He would then check this tally with the count for the manuscript he was copying. He counted the number of times a particular word occurred in the book. And he noted the middle word in the middle of the page and compared that to the original text.
By making these careful checks in the outer, he hoped to avoid any mistakes that might come. So, needless to say, this was a detail-oriented person to say the least. He is the perfect person to ask the question and the perfect person to record the answer to the question. Also, this is a person who knows well all 713 Jewish commandments.
Well, our scribe talks to Jesus in the temple during Passover week and asks the question of Jesus, “What can each of us do right now to improve our lives, to increase our happiness?”
To answer this question, let’s look at Mark 12:28-34.
“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 first of all?’”
Now, this scribe was one of many. You can imagine there was a whole group there arguing with one another. He stopped as he was passing by because he was impressed with the way Jesus was answering the questions. So this scribe asked the question that was burning on his mind of this Holy Man. It was an intelligent question.
If you had 713 commandments in your mind that you knew well and tried to live by, you would wonder what is really important. Out of the 713 commandments, what should I do today to make my life better? And, what about arguing? What is it when you argue inside of your mind? We have all done that. This was a very unusual scribe because he was questioning.
“Jesus answered, ‘The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; 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.’”
Jesus said that there is one God, one presence, one power, omnipotent—the principle of oneness. And this principle is our spiritual consciousness and shows that we are in a state of an awareness inside of our mind, an awareness of God. “Hear” means to look deeper. So, if we do look deeper into our own spirituality, we will find that God is One with each of us ALL the time. When we are feeling down in our life, we will receive the same power and same love from the same God as when we’re in a high time in our life. The Lord isn’t a thousand different moods. The Lord is one at all times.
In God, love is the power that joins and binds the universe and everything in it. It is the inner quality that sees good everywhere and in everyone. God is love. Lord our God is within us, as the ruling awareness, creating each person’s spirituality. If we have a ruling thought in our head and if that ruling thought is God and the Presence of God and putting God first, then we have the Lord our God ruling our life.
The heart is our thoughts and feelings that have been stored inside of us. Our soul is more. Our soul is both our subconscious and conscious mind. Our soul is everything we are aware of at this present moment and all time. The mind is the co-creative inventor inside of us. It tells us the starting point of every act. Strength is our energy from God. the might, the capacity to accomplish.
This is all inside of us for the work of God. We are to love the activity of Christ on every level. The mind is the starting point of every act, thought or feeling with the energy from God. In other words, in everything in our life, put God first. Don’t even allow a fear thought, or a feeling that we don’t have what it takes, to be even be thought of. Always put God first. And if we put God first, we put God first in our mind, in our body, in our life. We are going to have a change in everything, including a change of heart, our consciousness.
“The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
How should we love our neighbor? We should love our neighbor as ourself. If we do not love ourself, we can’t give our neighbor love. We have to love ourself because our body is the temple of the living Lord. If we love that activity inside of us and what it is doing in our life, then we can pass that on to our neighbor. If we are a channel for God’s love to flow, and we close that channel, how can the love flow? We have to choose to keep the channel wide open, and allow the love to flow.
What about your neighbor? This is not just talking about someone who lives next door to us. It’s talking about people we’ve never met, across the continent. It’s talking about a commitment to have that openness and to go the extra mile for every person who enters our life. It is talking about people that are like us and people very different from us. It is talking about people in our town and people in all the other towns and all different places of worship. When Jesus said to go the extra mile, He was never talking about an experience of walking around in a circle within our place of familiarity.
There’s a wonderful story of St. Francis of Assisi. He was terrified of leprosy. He was walking down a very narrow path one day and saw a very pale, ghostly white leper coming towards him. His heart shrank back. He recoiled. He had all this fear come up inside of him. He started to shake and shudder because he was terrified of contamination from this loathsome disease.
He was ashamed of himself and his actions at that point. Then, he decided he would go the extra mile with God and allow God to love through him. He rallied and went with God then.
He ran up to the leper, put his arms around him and kissed his cheek. Then St. Francis of Assisi went on. A moment later he looked back and no one was there. Throughout his life, he was convinced that the leper was not really a leper but was Christ Himself whom he had met.
In Mark 12:32, our scribe answers. “And the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other but He; 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.’”
We have here a scribe who sees that there is one power and that power is love. There is one law that counts in our ministry and in our life. It’s really not just what we teach, but how loving we each are daily. That is what it means to follow Jesus Christ, and go the extra mile.
The bottom line of Christianity is love. God is love. Love God, love yourself, love the people. That’s it. That’s all there is. If that’s all we did here, it would be more than enough.
In Mark 12:34 we read: “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 questions.”
Can we even imagine if Jesus Christ said to us that we were not far from the kingdom of God? What an incredible compliment, perhaps the finest compliment that has ever been given. The kingdom of God IS Christ and His awareness. God is love. To have that love individualized inside of us is what we are here to achieve. It is the greatest activity a human can strive for.
Jesus could have said something that was much more complicated. He could have talked all day long about the 712 other commandments. He could have made it so difficult for us to grasp. But we’re the ones who make religion so difficult for people because our human mind is a difficult place, and we think it has to be a difficult world. But it’s not. In reality it is very simple. And it is the way of happiness.
We have a choice in our life. We can live our life as an ordinary scribe who is a person who looks only to outer facts and constantly makes decisions about ourselves with the facts of the given moment, or we can decide to have a deeper, enlarged, inner view of life through the eyes of love.
It’s interesting. Jesus was talking with the disciples about the scribes right after this, and He gave His opinion. Now, Jesus was a teacher who called something exactly what it was.
In Mark 12:38-40, Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
You can know this Bible. You can live with it and sleep with it. But if you are not loving, you don’t have anything. It’s not what we know but what we demonstrate in our lives. We have to begin to demonstrate love. When love is made active in us, it spreads out.
You see, the love way is the way of the true prophet. The silent way is more powerful than the noisy way. Gandhi said, “If the crowd should ask an eye for an eye, all will be blind.” All people are blind who do not see through the perception of God’s love. Love is not blind. Loves sees the good. The more loving we are, the more worth we are to our world, our business, our family and our friends.
After we are gone we are only going to be remembered for one thing—what we gave. We will be going to be remembered by the amount of love we gave to the world. People are never gone until they are forgotten, what an incredible legacy to leave behind.
Today we will experience love by expressing it. We are like the wanderer in search of love. We have journeyed to the most loving person in all the world. We have asked this person how to find love. The wise one speaks and assigns us three tasks. And when we complete these tasks, we’ll know the mystery of love. The three tasks assigned are as follows:
1. Love God, 2. Love yourself, 3. Love others as yourself. The spiritual goal is to become one of the most loving of individuals.
I ask you to follow God by making a commitment this morning to become ten times more loving in your life.
I do so and give my love…..
God love Bless You!