The Great Command
Mark 12:28- 34
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him…

One more question ere it could be said, "No man after that durst ask him any question." Alas! on the human side it, like the others, is a mere quibble, or based on one. But though man asks in his folly Jesus never answers according to it, but always according to his supreme wisdom, in a manner so high, so far-reaching, so seriously. He trifled not with the perplexities of men. He knew nations and tribes of men would feed on his words to the end of time, and he gladly bore witness to all those truths against which the human errors in that erring age stood out in humiliating contrast. The Christian teaching grows up out of the Mosaic. The later development of the one system does not set aside a single moral principle of the earlier. The solution of the difficulty which beset a few amidst the many commandments for which priority was urged laid down a permanent principle for all time, and took up into Christianity the essential teaching of Mosaism. We read -

I. THE SIMPLICITY OF THE CHRISTIAN TEACHING. One word embodies it - the word "love." To this Christ gave the utmost prominence and the most beautiful illustration. This simple rule engages the devotion of the central energy of the entire life. It describes the first effort of feeble infancy and the ripest experience of the mature Christian age. It is at once the point from which all pure and active obedience takes its departure, and it is the end towards which all spiritual growth and culture tends. It is the alpha and the omega of the Christian spirit. To love, to love God first and supremely, and in that love to love the neighbor, is so complete a dedication of the entire inner man to the service of the Most High, that all commands requiring the details of that service are anticipated. From these branches hang all the rich, ripe clusters of fruitful obedience.

II. THE ELEVATING TENDENCY OF THAT TEACHING, WHICH SETS FORTH THE LOVE OF THE INFINITE EXCELLENCE AS THE HIGHEST AND MOST OBLIGATORY OF ALL ITS REQUIREMENTS. That holy system of spiritual morality first called Mosaism, or Judaism, and now called Christianity, is for ever raised to the highest pitch of excellence and worthiness by making this its central, its almost solitary, command. All that is good in morals, all that is pure in aspiration, all that is beneficent in action, flows from this fountain. Theperpetual aim to reach to the most entire love of the most exalted Object of human thought must insensibly raise the moral and spiritual character of every one who is controlled by so worthy an endeavor. It ensures the recognition of the soul's subjection to the authority of God; it makes the Divine excellences objects of ceaseless contemplation; it subordinates all the aims and activities of life to the holiest purposes; and, while withdrawing the life from the degradations of low and unworthy motives and pursuits, it regulates the whole by an ever-present, powerful, and satisfying principle of life, at the same time preserving the simplicity and moral cohesion - the unity - of the character. Never was a holier law uttered; never were the feet of men directed to a purer, safer path; never was a firmer, truer basis laid on which to found a kingdom of truth, of peace, and of well-being.

III. THE PRACTICAL CHARACTER OF THE CHRISTIAN TEACHING - "Thou shalt love thy neighbor." To present rules for the government of every hour and the regulation of every transaction of life would be far less effective than to seize upon a principle like this, which underlies all conduct. It may be entrusted with the guidance of the life in the absence of controlling regulations and minute details of obligatory observance. It leaves the spirit free to act according to its own generous impulses or prudent caution. Such a rule prevents the necessity for "Thou shalt not steal;" "Thou shalt not kill." Love embraces all virtues; it fulfils all righteousness. The regulating principle, "as thyself," points to the due estimate of one's own life; such a love for it as would prevent its exposure to evil, and such a discernment of the true interests of life, and the common participation in those interests, as would lead to right adjustment of the relative claims of self and the apparently conflicting claims of others. Truly, "there is none other commandment greater than these." This, indeed, is "much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." And he who has come to appreciate the truth and beauty of this is "not far from the kingdom of God;" while be who keeps this commandment already dwells within the security and shares the blessedness of that kingdom. - G.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

WEB: One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the greatest of all?"

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