The Greatest Commandment

Theme: Loving God, loving each other. Proper 26/Ordinary 31 Year B
Object: A poster with "Classroom Rules"
Scripture: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

I imagine that most of you have seen a list of rules like this in your classroom at school. One day last week I walked through the school and every classroom I walked into had a list of rules on the wall. Even though there were some slight differences, most of them said pretty much the same thing. They said things like:

  • Listen Carefully
  • Follow Directions
  • Obey the Teacher
  • Work Quietly
  • Keep Your Hands to Yourself
  • Be Kind to others

If you were to ask me which classroom rule is most important, I know what I would say. I would say that the most important rule is to respect and obey your teacher and the second is very much like it -- be kind and show respect for your fellow students. If we would just follow those two rules, there really wouldn't be a need for any more.

The religious leaders of Jesus' day liked to sit around and discuss the law. They especially liked to ask Jesus questions about the law to try to trick him into saying something that would cause people to turn against him. One day they were questioning Jesus and he answered them with one good answer right after another.  One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Most of you know the ten commandments, don't you?  How would you answer that question?

This is how Jesus answered.  He said, “The most important commandment is this: ‘The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment is greater than these."

After hearing Jesus' answer, no one else dared to ask him any more questions!

What a wise answer.  If we could just keep those two commandments, we wouldn't have any trouble keeping the rest of them, would we?

Dear Father, help us to love you with all our heart, soul, and strength -- and to love one another as we love ourselves. In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

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