During Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem, though he knew His crucifixion was imminent, he continued teaching about the kingdom of God. One day, Jesus was approached by a scribe with an important question, which had had significant implications not only for the scribe but for us, as well. Mark’s portrayal of scribes was usually negative but, in this text, he introduced a scribe who respected the way Jesus interacted with Jewish leaders.
The scribe asked, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus quickly distilled the 600+ commandments found in the Torah down to two: 1) Love God with every part of your being (emotionally, physically, and intellectually) and 2) “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus aligned these two commandments in a way that makes them seem inseparable: one command with two parts.
During this season of Lent, we are reminded of Jesus’ love, both for His Father and for us, which led Him to sacrifice His life. Each day we are called to love God and one another, just as Jesus showed us. We are asked to do more than pay lip service to this great commandment. We should not only proclaim our love but also demonstrate it in tangible ways, by loving and serving our neighbors, particularly those who are most in need. No longer should we merely love one another as we love ourselves but we should endeavor to love one another as Christ loved us, intentionally, fully, and unconditionally.
Jesus concluded with these words: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” When we truly love God, and love our neighbors as ourselves, that is evidence that we are on the path that leads to the kingdom of God and eternal life!