“What Is The Greatest Commandment”
Pastor Jerry Donovan
Keener and Walton’s Study Bible discovered that issues were commonly debated among Pharisaical teachers in the first century. The rabbis counted 613 individual statutes in the law, 365 were negative and 248 were positive. They attempted to differentiate between the “great” and “little” commandments. They also attempted to formulate great principles from which the rest of the law could be understood. Which commandment is the greatest of all? This question was one of the issues they debated and many of them felt that the greatest was honoring one’s parents.
Jesus arrives in Jerusalem in Mark 12, where his final ministry took place inside the city’s walls. A teacher of the law was impressed by Jesus’ answer to many of the Pharisees’ previous questions and chose to ask one of his own.
What is the one commandment on which all the others hang? Jesus quoted two passages from the OT Dt 6:4-5 and Lev 19:18. Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
Leviticus 19:18 “18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
These two commandments belong together; they cannot be separated. The Jewish people had a narrow view of who was a “neighbor” mainly fellow Jews and proselytes.
Jesus redefined the term to mean anyone whom we deal with as we read in Luke 10:25-37 of The Message Paraphrase, “25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” 26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.” 29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”
30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.’”
Sunday Worship times are 10:30 AM Central time at the Methodist Church in Van Horn; 11:15 AM Mountain time at the Methodist Church in Sierra Blanca; Livestream Worship begins at 9:00 AM on Jerry Donovan’s FaceBook page.