Let’s turn and read our passage from Mark 12:28-34.
If you’re tracking with us as we’ve been preaching through the Gospel of Mark, you will remember that we are in that part of the story where Jesus is in Jerusalem, the very place where He will be hanged on the cross for the sake of OUR SINS.
If you are new here, you must be wondering how Jesus was supposed to be hanged on the cross more than 2000 years ago for OUR SIN? So let me clarify that and give you the context before I move ahead into this passage.
The story goes like this – When God created the heaven, earth, animals, birds, fishes and trees he also created us and unlike other animals and birds he created us uniquely. The Bible tells us that God created us in his image and likeness, and he gave us a free will so that we willingly offer ourselves to him and enjoy the relationship.
But there was one condition,and the condition was that we live under his authority and his dominion because he made us he had all the right to demand that from us. But instead of living in a loving relationship with God, the first man and women, Adam and Eve,disobeyed God’s Holy laws and failed to live under His authority. They Sinned,and their relationship with God was broken.
Since then everyone born on this earth is born sinful, no one teaches us to cheat, bite, lie and rebel, we are born with those qualities. Why? Because we are born sinful.
The reason our world is corrupt is because we are corrupt. We live in brokenness because our relationship with our creator God is broken and no matter how hard man tries to please God, he never succeeds.
But the Bible tells us that God so loved us that he sent his Son Jesus to live an obedient life and SINLESS life on our behalf, take all the penalty of our Sin on himself and die a terrible death on our behalf so that we can be forgiven, and our relationship with God can be restored back by doing two things – Repenting and Believing in his son Jesus.
Jesus died and was buried for three days, after which he rose again from the dead, defeated sin and death and giving us an abundant life. A life full of joy, peace and satisfaction.
The passage we are looking at today are the last days of Jesus on the earth. His mission on earth is almost coming to an end, and very soon he will be handed over to the Roman authorities to be punished, tortured and killed.
He was not punished because of any crime he did, but because he claimed to be the Son of God and he spoke against the hypocrisy of the so-called religious leaders, which they did not like it.
As Jesus is about to depart the Earth, instead of a send-off party, the end days of his time on earth seems to be filled with more conflicts and unpleasant confrontations with the religious folks who should have understood him and his words better than others. Pharisees, Sadducees and the Scribes who were considered to be scholars of scriptures. They should have known the numerous prophecies in the scriptures that indicated the coming of the Son of God and his death.
But as Jinson pointed outlast Sunday these men knew the Scriptures very well but failed to understand God – They failed to receive the Truth of God and failed to believe in the Power of God. But the greatest loss I think was that they failed to enjoy the moment of standing right before the Son the God, the only one who had the power to redeem their souls from eternal death, they missed the opportunity of worshiping their saviour face to face.
In today’s passage, a teacher of the law asks Jesus a question to test him.
“Which commandment is the most important of all?” he asked.
And Jesus replies “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.”
I like how Jesus uses every opportunity to give them and us a glimpse of His Kingdom, and in doing so, he also informs us how as children we need to conduct our lives on this earth that reflects His Kingdom.
Once we’re joined back into a loving relationship with God when we repent of our sins and believe in his son Jesus, he calls us to live a Kingdom-minded life.
And it firstly begins by loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And secondly by loving our neighbour as ourselves.
Love is the greatest commandment of all.
In man-made religions, people are called to offer sacrifices and do good works so they can please their earthly god. Have you noticed that none of the religions in this world approaches or refers their god with a loving relationship?
In all other religion, God is portrayed as someone who is sitting at the top of the mountain, and people are asked to find their way to reach him. – Which is absolutely impossible, because no matter how hard we try, forsake family and the world, live alone in the forest, we will never be able to reach God.
It is only the Bible that tells us that God came down for us in the form of a human and lived among us so that we can know him, relate with him and eventually love him.
After all that he has done for us, our true and living God desires that we love Him with everything we have.
To love with all our heart means to love from within, from the bottom of our heart. Not a superficial love but a real and genuine Love.
To love with all our soul means to love with our whole being, our words, our actions, our act of worship.
To love with all our strength means to love him with all that we possess.
But why is loving God important?
1. Because when we love God we enjoy His sustaining favor
Deut 7:9 – Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
Even though we are forgiven,loved and bound together in a relationship with God we still continue to live in our mortal bodies. There will be a battle within us all the time to sin and give ourselves to our fleshly desires. The Bible calls it a spiritual warfare.
Here’s how Apostle Paul describes it in Romans 7:18-25
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right,but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
At work, the office, in our neighbourhood, through phone, through television – we are constantly bombarded with lustful thoughts and our flesh always pushing us into that direction all the time.
The only way we can fight these thoughts, desires, habits is by constantly loving God with all our heart,mind, soul and strength, by doing that he pours out his sustaining grace and favour to protect our hearts from giving into fleshly desires.
2. The second reason why loving God is important is because when we love him we enjoy His goodness.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
The Christian walk is not an easy one. Following Jesus will call for many troubles in our lives. Suffering will be a constant companion in our lives. It may come to you in the form of persecution from our family and friends, or it may come to you in the form of sickness and other health issues.
Matt 10:22 – You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matt 5:11-12 – Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
When we go through sufferings for the sake of Christ the only thing that will give us relief is His goodness cover our lives. And we enjoy his Goodness only when we love him with all our heart, sound, mind & strength.
3. When we love God the most,we love others the best
I realised that in fulling the first command which is to love God, we automatically place ourselves in a position where all the other commandments become easy.
When we experience God’s love and forgiveness, it overflows from our lives, in such a way that it reaches out to others.
If loving God is the most important command, and if by loving God we experience his sustaining grace and favour, his goodness and a motivation to obey all other commandments. What is it that stops us from doing so?
Laziness? Pride? Time?Distractions?
Let’s humble ourselves before God and allow his Spirit to reveal the areas in our lives that stop us from loving him with all our heart, mind, soul an strength.