Scot McKnight reflects on "the greatest commandment" in this excerpt from One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow (eBook).
From 613 Commandments ... To 2
[A religious expert] came to Jesus, because he wanted to trap Jesus in a theological debate. (Or, in our terms, because he wanted Jesus to tell the crowd which denomination he was in or whose side he was on in a political or religious debate.)
[The religious expert asks,] "Of all the commandments [the 613], which is the most important?"
If Jesus picks one, he could be guilty of picking and choosing the wrong one. If he doesn't pick one, he looks lame. Jesus was ready ... and he offers to his listeners [what] I call the Jesus Creed:
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 12:29–31 ...
[What Does God Really Want?]
What God really wants is for you and me to love God and to love others, and if we do that everything else will fall in line.
Jesus' words are mind-blowing and they initiate us into his grand vision of the kingdom of God. The 613 aren't understood until you understand that every commandment is either a "love God" or a "love your neighbor" command. To turn these two into 613 is to minimize the centrality of love. To see the 613 as expressions of either loving God or loving others is to set the 613 free to be what God wants them to be. The remaining 611 are merely instances of what it looks like to love God and to love others. Jesus turned the number 613 into two.
There are only two commandments: Love God. Love others. If you love God and love others, you do all God wants of you.
Learn more about Scot's One.Life eBook.
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