I’ve read or have heard messages on the conversation dozens of times at least. But this morning the conversation in Mark 12 between the scribe and the Savior strikes me as a bit odd. Jesus is ushering in a new covenant yet the conversation is about the old. Jesus is the catalyst for the age of grace but speaks about the requirements for living under the law. And, when the two exhibit a like mindedness on the writings of Moses, Jesus tells the man he is “not far from the kingdom of God” (12:34). It’s like Jesus is saying to this inquiring scribe, if you believe that, you’ll believe everything!
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?” Jesus answered, “The most important 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.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to Him, You are right, Teacher.”
(Mark 12:28-32a ESV)
Odd, at first, that Jesus would connect agreement concerning the commandments with alignment concerning the kingdom. But maybe not.
If without faith it is impossible to please God and if saving grace comes only by faith then perhaps it’s not so remarkable that someone who has sincerely believed what God has spoken in the past “to the fathers” is ready to receive what He has spoken in “these last days” by His Son.
For the sincere seeker of God, believing that he or she is called to love God with all their being and to love others as themselves should cause great turmoil. To believe that’s the call of man yet to honestly acknowledge the inability to respond to such a call should be devastating.
The debt of sins already committed against God, the weakness of the flesh, the deceitfulness of the heart, the allure of the world, if one is honest, frustrates loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. So to believe that is what God wants puts the sincere seeker in a position of looking for a fix. A remedy that pays the debt, crucifies the flesh, provides a new heart, and sets one’s affections upon another world.
And so, the faith that believes we are to love God with every ounce of our fiber and then to love others as ourselves is the same faith needed to receive the gospel.
Those who argued with Jesus and were far from the kingdom of God were those who in their arrogance and pride redefined what loving God and loving others should look like. While they may not have created a god after the own likeness, they twisted God’s law to accommodate their own sinful weakness and desires. They didn’t believe the word written by Moses the man of God, and so, they wouldn’t believe the word as revealed by Jesus, the Son of God.
Ours is to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength. Second to that is to love our neighbor as ourself. If we truly believe that, then we will also believe that in ourselves we are incapable of obedience apart from divine intervention. And when we confess our need we are ready to receive His abundant and free provision . . . and we draw nigh to the kingdom of God.
If you believe that, you’ll believe everything.
Because of grace . . . for His glory . . .