By Brooke Holt
“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?’” – Mark 12:28
At this point in Mark’s Gospel, we are at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. When Jesus enters Jerusalem, thousands of people herald him as a king. The religious authorities are seething at Jesus’ authority, power, and popularity among the crowds. They are dumbstruck as to how to take this man down without upsetting the crowds.
So the leaders line up to trap Jesus with loaded questions. The Pharisees and Herodians challenged Jesus about paying taxes (Mark 12:13–17). Then the Sadducees questioned Jesus about the resurrection using an illustration of a woman widowed a mere seven times from one family of brothers. The Sadducees wanted to know whose wife she would be in the resurrection (Mark 12:18–27).
These religious leaders came to Jesus with an agenda. They wanted Jesus to give a wrong answer, to provide evidence that could be used against him. They didn’t want to hear Jesus, understand who he was, or learn from his teaching. Their jealousy and pride drove them to overcome this man so deeply loved and admired by the crowds. Their hearts were cold, their ears were deaf, and their eyes were blind. They could not understand Jesus and the kingdom of God.
The last leader to question Jesus in this passage is a scribe, and he poses a very common question for the Jewish people: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Unlike the other questioners, this man seemed to want to understand Jesus on this important question. With 613 laws, there was no way to follow them all, so which law was the highlight or the focal point for Jesus? While this scribe was more humble than the other leaders, he was still questioning the truth and authority of Jesus.
Many people in the world continue to question Jesus – who he was, what he came to do, and whether his words are true. Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, many don’t seem to want to understand Jesus. Their questions try to dismiss or disqualify Jesus. But Jesus answered every question with perfect authority and wisdom then, and he will continue to do so today. But the question that we must ask is: is how do we approach this holy God? Do we come ready to dismiss or disqualify the truths of Scripture, or do we come in humility ready to be challenged and ultimately transformed by the truth?
Take some time to ponder your posture before the Lord today. Is it humble and pliable or arrogant and unteachable? Do you put yourself over the Scriptures, or do you allow them to examine and challenge you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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