Saturday in the Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34

A Lawyer Finally Gets It

Matthew says “lawyer” while Mark says “scribe”; the terms were synonymous.  At any rate, this man was different from the others who were asking Jesus questions, because his heart was in the right place.  He saw that Jesus “answered them well” and thought to ask him a far more important question, a real question, not some ridiculous question based on a most improbable case, nor to catch him in some word game, nor get Jesus into trouble with the authorities.  Instead, this man asked an honest question and wanted to hear Jesus’ answer.

So the lawyer simply asks, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  I have to believe that Jesus was glad to hear a sincere question that went to the very heart of the Scriptures.  So Jesus answers, and he begins by quoting what were considered then and now the most important words of the Jewish faith: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  This is called the Shema, a prayer which derives its name from the first word, “shema,” which means, “hear” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  And then Jesus adds, “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.”

I feel it necessary to highlight that the prayer recorded in Deuteronomy which Jesus quotes begins with the Lord being one.  After all, you can repeat the part about loving God without the first part about God being one, and most do.  But that is to misquote Scripture.  In other words, loving the Lord with all your heart is predicated upon knowing Him, specifically, that He is one.  This reminds us that when we pray, we must know the One to whom we are praying.  John spent his entire Gospel showing that Jesus revealed the Father to us, and Jesus did so to make the Father known (John 1:18).  Then Jesus adds, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).  I have heard people abuse this passage saying that it teaches us to love ourselves.  No.  It assumes that we love ourselves because we are the sinful creatures that we are.  God uses our selfishness to teach us to love others as we naturally love ourselves.  Then Jesus adds, “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

When the lawyer sincerely concurs, Jesus tells him that he is not far from the Kingdom of God.  Entrance into the Kingdom is based upon knowing God through Christ, loving God through Christ, and loving others through Christ.  On this depends the law, the prophets, the Christian faith, and our lives.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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