If I would have been there, those 2,000 plus years ago, I would have asked the very same question. Off all the questions……of all the people…..that was the perfect question posed to the Perfect person. And to think, I didn’t even have to ask it. That’s how Good He is! He gives me what I need the most before I can even know to ask for it.
I am a practical person. Sort of a cut-to-the-chase kind of girl. Nothing annoys me more in fact, than the inability to apply what I know I need to understand. Theory, in and of itself, without application, frustrates me. And if there is a ton of “theory”, how do I best organize and prioritize, so that it is more plausible to apply?
That is why Mark 12:28-34 is so important to me, such a relief really. I benefit from this interaction between Jesus and the teachers of the law as much as if I had been there firsthand and asked the question myself. It is the one question that sets the structure of His Holy Word in my mind, forms the framework so to speak.
There are hundreds of commands in the Old Testament and the New. Add to that the number of “traditions” the Jewish religious leaders added and there were thousands of things to keep in mind if you wanted to be “faithful” in the eyes of God and man. It became an impossible burden to bear.
So when Jesus came on the scene, as the Incarnate God, heads turned and people listened to what He said in response to the question people were desperate for. “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
They had already heard Him say back in Matthew 11:25-30 that He had authority above all because He was the Son of God. And even more shocking was that He had said, contrary to what the religious leaders were saying to them, that His yoke was easy and His burden was light. This didn’t make sense at all! How could this be? Life as a faithful Jew was anything but “easy and light”.
That is why all eyes were upon Jesus to hear how He would explain this easier life as a believer in God. How could life and faith be easy when there were thousands of do’s and don’ts to remember?
Jesus, Perfect as He is as the fulfillment of the law, took them back to the Shema, the core Hebrew prayer in Duetronomy 6:4-6. He quoted from what they had originally learned from Moses, the lawgiver himself. Jesus said in response , ” The most important one 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”.
And there it was. Simple and straightforward. Of all the thousands of things being heaped upon them to fulfill (if they wanted “faith”according to the law and religious leaders), it all came down to love. What God wanted most was their love, for Him and for others.
That is how His burden could be easy and His yoke light! Love! Love God and love others! That is life and love simplified. And by His grace, that I will do!