Not for show

He saw that Jesus gave good answers to their questions. So he asked him, “Which of the commands is the most important?” Jesus answered, “The most important command is this: ‘People of Israel, listen! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second most important command is this: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’ These two commands are the most important.” (Mark 12:28-31)

Jesus taught anyone who would listen - even the Pharisees and Sadducees - the religious leaders and zealots of the day who were most likely the ones who would challenge everything he would say. They weren't really all that "open" to his teachings; it was more that they wanted to find some way to trip Jesus up in his teaching and discredit him publicly. They were quite jealous of the attention he was getting - after all, they had been the primary "religious" teachers of the day and now they had a little "competition". Our pride is a dangerous thing whenever it puts what we have accomplished, think we know, or even actually do know above the potential of learning truth or seeing truth in a fresh way. The "teacher of the law" saw that Jesus was pretty good at accurately being able to answer the questions and challenges of the group. He asked what he thinks might be the hardest of questions to answer: "Which of the commands is the most important?" Could this have been a 'challenge' to see if Jesus would say something that 'tripped him up' and let the crowds see him as a 'false teacher'? Jesus wasn't stumped by this line of questioning but came back quickly with not only the most important, but the second most important! It is just like Jesus to not only give us what we want, but what we also need!

The answer the teacher wanted was the "most important" command. He didn't expect Jesus to throw in the second most important which actually revealed to the crowds that he had a greater hold on truth than the religious crowd believed he did. Jesus works this way time after time, giving us not only what we ask for, but what we don't even know we have need of. These religious leaders were working hard to discredit him - challenging him with tough questions it had taken them years of study to sort of understand. Baffled by his "brilliance" in answering each and every one of them, they want him to identify what would actually support all the other teachings he had elaborated on up to that point. You see, these religious leaders hadn't treated him, nor those they lived with on a regular basis, with the kindness and dignity God expected. Their religious works were for show, but deep down inside their inner man, their pride got in the way of them really connecting themselves as "equal" with the sinners all around them. In essence, they might have wanted to know what Jesus considered the most important truth, but they needed to understand how they treated others mattered! We can understand truth and still treat others 'differently' or with less kindness than we should. Just sayin!


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