The greatest commandment

When a teacher of the law asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, Jesus gave an answer that went beyond what the questioner expected. All the commandments of the law could be summarized under the word ‘love’. A person’s first responsibility is to love God; the second is to love one’s fellow human beings. The fact that people are commanded to love shows that love is primarily a matter of doing, not feeling. It is an attitude of loyal obedience that governs a person’s mind, will and emotions (Mark 12:28-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18).

The questioner immediately saw that such a requirement as this was greater than all the requirements of the sacrificial system. He realized that God required change within people’s hearts more than formal obedience to ceremonial laws. He began to see what many of the Jews failed to see, and in so doing made definite progress towards the kingdom of God (Mark 12:32-34).

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