28 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 most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 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.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 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.”34 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 more questions.
One gal in my college dorm had an accident driving home from her job late one night. Both knees were crushed and she needed assistance while recovering in a wheelchair. I signed up to take her to and from the classes we shared. It was convenient and I wanted to help along with the rest of the community, but I found myself caring more about pushing around the wheelchair than caring for the person in the wheelchair. Through this experience, I learned a powerful lesson: how we love God is revealed in how we love people.
In Mark 12:38-13:2, we see a contrast in how people lived out their love of God. The scribes and Pharisees walked around caring about their own appearances, the humble widow gave her all, the disciples listened to Jesus’ comments and observations, and Jesus lamented over injustices. Earlier in the chapter, Jesus summed up the law of God in the Great Commandment. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And the second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:28-34). When Jesus says this, he asks us to take the challenge of loving as he would, showing compassion even to the most unlovable and difficult.
God uses people to show his compassion. This kind of unconditional love costs something of us, but the reward is immense. Sharing Jesus’ compassion offers life to another. Much like new birth and new life are made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s worth giving every part of ourselves to God to do this – heart, soul, mind and strength. The Great Commandment asks us to do no less so that others might live. Whom is God asking you to show compassion and love sacrificially – a prodigal child, family member, neighbor, friend, coworker, an unreached people group, a people without a Bible in their own language, the poor, the oppressed? Write a prayer of commitment to the King and his cause. Jesus gave his life so others could live. Let’s follow his example.
By Donna Burns