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Gospel of Mark #48 ~ (12:28-34)

Started by Al Moak, August 22, 2004, 09:53:53 AM

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Al Moak

August 22, 2004, 09:53:53 AM Last Edit: November 05, 2008, 04:37:22 PM by Al Moak
Mark 12:28 - 34
The Law Of Our Lives

There are many Christians in our day who think that God's law is out of date. They say that the Old Testament Law isn't applicable anymore, because in our day we're not under the law, but we're under grace.

But let me ask you a very important question: is that God's view of things or is it merely man's view?  Did God give us the Old Testament Law just to read like an old relic that had some historical interest?  Or did He give it to us merely so that we'd have some idea of the contrast between the awful bondage the Jews had to live under and the wonderful liberty we have in our era? 

Let's begin to answer these questions by considering how Christ's apostles viewed the Law. Paul, for one, made one thing perfectly plain: we're not under is the Law's condemnation, the condemnation of a law that we were incapable of keeping.  Not that it isn't a good Law – Paul told us that it was "holy, just, and good."  He also made it plain, though, that our inability to keep the law made it very, very useful – as a "schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." In other words the thunder of the Law would certainly tend to move us to flee to the Savior. 

Paul confessed what we all must confess - that as far as salvation is concerned, the Law could do nothing for us, because of our fleshly inability. He said that, "what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh (in Christ's' flesh), that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

Simply put, God condemned sin in our Substitute (Who was Himself without sin) so that we might be free from its condemnation, and now His resurrected Son comes to us by His Spirit so that we may actually keep "the righteous requirement of the law!"  You cannot be saved by keeping the Law, but you can keep the Law because you are being saved!

In the passage before us in Mark, one of Israel's leaders came to Jesus to learn about the law and what it really meant. And he really did learn, and we can learn with him.  In fact we can learn here from Jesus a very important principle of the Christian life. It's a principle we can live by because of the help of His Spirit.

In looking at this part of Mark's Gospel we need to understand that not all the scribes and Pharisees were opposed to Jesus. It was similar to a time long before when God told Elijah, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." (1 Kings 19:18) And, just as in Elijah's day, so also in Jesus' day there were a few, even among the leaders, who understood the things He taught. In fact, in addition to the scribe in the passage before us, we should also be reminded of Nicodemus, a Pharisee who came to Jesus by night to learn from Him.

But there's a tremendous difference between these men and the majority of the prominent religious leaders of Jesus' day, most of whom hated and persecuted Him constantly. These differences in attitude toward Jesus are vital, and as you observe the scribe in the passage before us, you can see what those differences were. You can see that, unlike the rest, he asked questions, good questions, questions that reveal a heart ready for a Savior. They don't reveal a mere curiosity about what the Rabbi would say.

The questions he asked might in fact open or close the door of eternity for him and for many in our day as well! He was actually convinced that God's Law was vitally important, but he wanted to know what was behind it, what aspect of it God considered central. He wanted, in fact, to know the God of the Law and not merely the Law of God. God the Holy Spirit was already moving this man, and the result was that he came eagerly. It's an attitude we also need.

Jesus met him right where he was, attitude and all. If you remember Nicodemus, you'll remember that Jesus aimed right for his heart: He told him that to really understand Who He, Jesus, was, he'd have to be born again, and then He told him what that meant so that Nicodemus wouldn't be mistaken. In the scribe's case, He simply answered this scribe's direct question with a direct answer. He told him what the central theme of the Law was, but He told him in a way that revealed the kind of God Who gave that Law.

I want us to look somewhat carefully at Jesus' answer to the scribe. I pray that the Holy Spirit will make us as ready as he was to take the answer to heart.

Jesus' answer, which is a summary of the entire Law, is in three parts. It goes like this: ""Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment and the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The first part is concerned with how many gods we have. The second part is concerned with our attitude toward the one true God. Finally, the third part is concerned with the results of that attitude.

First then: how many gods do you have? It's a reasonable and important question, especially when we see that the word Jesus uses here is really not "god," but "lord." In fact, He says, "The Lord our God is the only Lord." A "god" is a being to be worshipped, but a "lord" is someone to be obeyed. The Lord our God - Jehovah - is to be our only Lord, the sole executive in our hearts and lives.

The question for us is: what drives us, what or who is lord in our lives? Are we driven by the desire for a better lifestyle, more income, a secure retirement, a bigger and better home, a bigger and better car, prestige, . . .? Are we workaholics? Are we driven by the desires of the flesh (no matter what the specific desires may be)? Whatever it is that drives us, that is our lord.

Or perhaps we're influenced a lot by another person. If so, then that person is our lord. That isn't to say that another person's influence is always or necessarily bad, but the question is whether that influence is grounded in the Word of God. If so, then God is our Lord through the other person. But in any case, our attitudinal question has to be, "Am I pleasing the Lord my God?"

Secondly, the commitment we have to the one Lord has to be rooted in love: "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." In other words, the commitment has to be from the heart – it has to arise out of joy in God, a conviction that it's worth it to give our all to Him. And it needs to be a permanent, practical commitment, not one that comes from an emotional high and only lasts a short time. In other words, it has to be love from the heart and love in action. It has to be love that involves the whole "soul."

We get a little more understanding when we realize that the Hebrew concept of the "soul" involved the whole being, a being that included both mind and body. So when Jesus tells us that we should love Him with the soul, He means we should love Him with everything we have - as He says here, with both mind and physical strength.

The Christian faith, unlike some mystical religions, doesn't empty the mind in order to be "open" to God. Instead, it fills the mind with wonderful, motivating truth about Him. Paul reflected that attitude when he said, ". . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." What our faith needs to amount to, in fact, is an eager, urgent desire to learn more and more about Him, not just so that we can boast about our theological knowledge, but so that, knowing Him, we can love Him, worship Him, and serve Him from the heart.

But, thirdly, Jesus didn't stop with one great commandment. He added something vital. He said, "And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." If you love God, then you want to obey the second commandment as well as the first. As an illustration, if you happen to be a woman, and you say you love your husband, but then you take your husband's favorite fishing rod and break it into several pieces, then the quality of your love is a little suspect! And if you say you love God, but you treat other human beings - who are, after all, God's property - with contempt, then your love to God is a little suspect as well. To love Him is to treat all that belongs to Him with care and devotion.

So you should love your neighbor, the one who lives next to you, the one who works next to you, as well as the those half way around the world - because they're all God's property. And Jesus says you should love them "as yourself." After all, He knows us well enough. He knows we love ourselves. Even those of us with so-called "poor self images" love ourselves, though possibly in wrong ways. But what Jesus is saying is that we should give our neighbors just as much thought and care as we give ourselves, and in so saying He knows we give lots of thought and care to ourselves. He says we should give it to others equally.

Such love to others is one of the authentic proofs of our love to God. If we really love Him with our whole being, then the sincerity of that love has to be shown by our love to all that's His - including our neighbors. You can't have love to God without love to neighbors.

Summarizing, there needs to be only one Lord of our lives. The only driving force for us must be God. And our commitment mustn't be a dreary, forced one, but it has to be a lovingly joyful one, a commitment born out of a new and beautiful relationship to a living Jesus Christ. And, finally, our commitment needs to work itself out in real, practical love to all the "neighbors" in our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are no longer under the condemnation of a Law we could not keep, but now we are freed to keep the Law, out of love to Jesus Christ. The Law, in other words, the one our Lord summarizes here - is now written in our own soft and loving hearts. Paul said, "... clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is of the heart." (2 Cor. 3:3) Jesus told the young scribe that he was not far from the kingdom of God. If this Law of God is in our hearts, in fact, then we are IN the kingdom of God!


Yes, God is concerned with the Now and the Hereafter.
He gave us laws to live by for now in this life and which keeping of the same would have repurcussions in the hereafter.

Nicodemus was very brave, even to go to Him by night., at least he would have lost resect and his livelihood. He "hungered and thirsted for more" and as Jesus told us he would be filled and he was filled. "A fountain springing up in to everlasting life."

He knew his need of a closer walk with God.  Do we are are we so set in our ways that we do not allow growth.

that's all Pastor.

Chris & Margit Saunders

Yes indeed, we should only be set in our reading of the scriptures, not in our understanding of them, sometimes a new reading of something like the Amplified Bible will open our understand of a passage which we might have read over and again in say the NKJV.
We do need to be open minded, but again the old saying comes "not so open-minded that your brains fall out!"
Most of all I think that we need to pray that the Holy Spirit will keep us alert and on our Pilgrim way, looking unto Jesus.
Nicodemus learnt "a  new thing, a new doctrine."
We stick to the new doctrine which Jesus preached and which faithful men like Al have preached throughout time immemorial, the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Al Moak

We simply must realize that where there is no growth, there must of necessity be no real life.  We must also experience the Law written on the fleshly tables of our hearts now, so that we may at least begin to love the Lord, and so that we can at least love our neighbors as well.