THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
Read Hosea 14 and Mark 12:28-34
It is time for the question & answer period and you know Jesus is going to love this! The self-righteous
scribes and Sadducees’ have amassed hundreds of laws. – 613 by one historian’s count! Some religious
leaders tried to distinguish between major & minor laws, and some taught that all laws were equally
binding and that it was dangerous to make any distinctions. This scribes question could have provoked
controversy between these two groups, but Jesus’s answer summarized all of Gods laws. Gods laws are
not burdensome and can be reduced to two simple principles: Love God and love others!
I think we make loving people far more complicated than Jesus did. I was at a hardware store one day,
hoping to get in and out in a hurry. This would be my 3 rd visit to get a simple piece needed to finish my
project. You’ve all been there… I was tired and somewhat aggravated. Within moments of entering the
store, it happened. It was the classic” I bumped into someone.” I saw someone I knew, and I knew they
were going though a tough time. I’ll be honest – I was tempted to duck behind an aisle or try to blend in
with the lumber…. getting through the checkout line and heading home was more important to me than
engaging a friend.
The Bible shares stories of how people in that time avoided the tax collectors and the sick or lame. I
don’t know any IRS agents or anyone with leprosy, but I still have the problem Jesus talked to His friends
about. He gave examples about people who helped those in need and those who passed by them.
These days we avoid people when they are inconvenient or their personalities rub us wrong or we
strongly disagree with them. We avoid people who make us feel anxious or insecure.
It is safe to say, that the ones we avoid are the ones Jesus engaged. He spent his whole life seeking out
the people most of us have spent our whole lives avoiding. Not only do we miss the spirit of Jesus when
we insist people change before we let them into our lives, but we miss out on the ride of getting to love
people right where they are, with no qualifications. As one author says; “We’re meeting people at the
starting line, not the finish line. Let them know they’re not just invited; they are welcome.”