“You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.”

Have you ever heard one child tell another child I will not be your friend unless you do so and so? This is putting conditions on a friendship. Sometimes we forget that Jesus loves us unconditionally. He never says, “I’ll love you if....” He loves us whether or no … More


The Jews were required to obey 613 precepts in the Law; 365 negative precepts and 248 positive ones. One of their favorite exercises was discussing which of these divine commandments was the greatest. Here we find a scribe asking Jesus which commandment is the most important (v. 28). The job of the scribe was to interpret the law in regards to all its rules and regulations. It is interesting to note Jesus’ answer was from (Deut 6:4-5). “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (vv. 29-31).

When Jesus quoted this as the first commandment, every devout Jew would agree with him. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That is a quotation from (Lev. 19:18). Jesus did one thing with it. In its original context it has to do with a man’s fellow Jew. It would not have included the Gentile, whom it was quite permissible to hate. But Jesus quoted it without qualification and without limiting boundaries. He took an old law and filled it with a new meaning. That was the putting of these two commandments together. No rabbi had ever done that before.

This was something that every Jew recited every day. Every scribe had it written out on a miniature scroll that he carried around in a small case made of parchment and that he had bound to his forehead or arm. This scribe was favorably impressed (v. 32) and showed unusual spiritual insight. When Jesus saw this He said, “Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God (vv. 33-34).” In other words He was saying, “You have come so far, why not come all the way by accepting Me and become one of My followers?” But it is always easy to let ritual take the place of love.


God’s laws are not burdensome. They can be reduced to two simple principles: love God and love others. When I am uncertain about what to do, I need to ask myself which course of action best demonstrates love for God and love for others. How many ways I can express my love for the Lord more. How can I show love for my neighbor. Pick at least one that I will plan to do this week.

Mark 12:28-34 (English Standard Version)

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