I preached a message on “Essentials” on Mark 12:28-34 at Redeemer Chinese Evangelical Free Church, Toronto on July 16, 2017. Found in the bulletins was the pre-refrection by a member of the church. I thought it was so meaningful, I asked her permission to copy it in my blog. Thank you, Jessica!
The Shema is well- known to Redeemer. Many of us have memorized it in the past, and today, we hear that Jesus replies with the Shema when asked about the greatest commandment. Why? Perhaps He’s alluding to Exodus 20 when Moses received the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:2, God starts by saying, “I am the Lord your God” which is echoed in the Shema. It’s almost as if Jesus is responding to what God spoke in Exodus 20 and owns it. “The Lord is one” echoes Exodus 20:3 where God says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Our God is Three in One, the Holy Trinity. We need to know whom we worship before we obey. The second part of the Shema says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Essentially, Jesus is saying to love God with your entirety! However, Jesus doesn’t stop there! The scribe only asked for the most important commandment, but Jesus took the liberty to give a second! He tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves. Why? Thinking about Jesus’ audience, they are those who studied the law and often made it about law-keeping than people-keeping. Jesus came to change that. Jesus loves His people so much that He includes how we treat each other as part of the greatest commandment. In these two commandments, Jesus is saying that if we should forget everything else, let us remember this: love. It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, where it says if we have not love, we are nothing, even if we can do great things. Jesus summarizes the commandments simply. Love God. Love Others. Worship. Serve. Do we live out these commandments? They’re definitely not easy. I know I come up short daily. Thank God for Jesus Christ in whom all Scripture is fulfilled! We can only live out these two commandments by His help. Jesus Christ loves the Father completely (heart), yielded His spirit to Him (soul), was taught and taught God’s Word (mind), and constantly fed the hungry, healed the sick and cared for the poor (strength). Moreover, Jesus didn’t just love His neighbours as Himself, He loved us when we were His enemies and He loved us more than Himself. He loves us so much that He would give His life for us so that we might have life and glory instead of death. How great is the love of Christ!