Firmly Rooted in Love
Concerning the teachings of Jesus—Jesus made one point over and over again most emphatically—the things He declared and taught were not in any way opposed to the ancient beliefs and teachings of Israel. It was the religious authorities of His time that had fallen into error, not Jesus. Jesus, Elijah, Moses, Abraham and all of the others were in harmony. The so-called interpreters of Scripture who had come between had gradually lost touch with the real meaning of Scripture and had come to believe that their opinions were the sacred Word of God.
So, repeatedly, Jesus found Himself debating Scriptural matters with one authority or another, invariably revealing the falsehoods or contradictions of their teachings in the simplest and most inarguable way possible by using the Scriptures themselves to back up His own statements. He knew the Scriptures better than anyone else, which must have really riled His opponents. In every debate, those who accused Jesus of misusing Scripture walked away being shown as ones who themselves misused Scripture.
But in a delightful passage from Mark’s gospel we read of a scribe who saw things clearly:
Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 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.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Here was a scribe of the old true school. Here was one who had not been sucked in by the politicking, greed and arrogance of most all of the religious authorities. The Temple had been turned into a marketplace and undo emphasis had been placed upon burnt sacrifices for the simple reason that there was money in it, and it also gave the religious authorities a means of exerting power over the people. It’s good to read about a scribe who wasn’t caught up in this.
A mutual endorsement came out of this encounter between Jesus and the scribe. The scribe approved of Jesus and Jesus approved of the scribe. This is highly significant for it gives evidence of what we have already said—that Jesus was perfectly in tune with the Scriptures. Jesus really was in the spirit of Israel. A person could be a follower of Jesus and stay true to his heritage because Jesus was the past of Israel come alive in the present to fulfill the promise of the heritage.
So Jesus and the scribe stood solidly together on two important points. Firstly, they agreed that God is one. Secondly, they agreed that the love of God and others is the essential activity of the disciple. These teachings had remained the same all along, and still do. These are the greatest and most ancient teachings of Israel. In Jesus, these teachings came alive. We are united with the one God through Him and His love flows through us to unite us all in God’s love. The scribe was very close to realizing this. May we all realize it and find life in our loving Lord.
Spreading, Serving and Sharing with You,