Today’s Thought: The greatest commandments.
Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. (Mark 12:13)
Jesus is accumulating followers, making the Romans and church leaders nervous. He’s been attracting large crowds when teaching at the temple, so Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians begin gathering there as well. They inundate Jesus with questions in an effort to catch him in a lie or blasphemy.
They ask who gave him authority to teach in the temple; whether or not the religious should pay taxes to Caesar; and quiz him on hypothetical situations dealing with the resurrection. (Those last questions were from the Sadducees who didn’t even believe in resurrection.) And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that [Jesus] answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (v28)
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ [Deuteronomy 6:4-5]. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ [Leviticus 19:18]. There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher….” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions (v29-34).
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you turned an instrument of shameful death into a means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)