Jesus Gives the Greatest Commandment

Open Your Bible

Mark 12:1-44, Joshua 22:1-5, 1 Peter 2:4-8

I didn’t grow up going to church, not at first. But somewhere along the way, my mother taught me the Lord’s Prayer (yes, the King James Version). I didn’t know it was spoken by Jesus, or that it was His instruction—an outline of sorts—for how to talk to God (Matthew 6:9–13). Still, it became a touchstone for me when I was afraid, an anchor when I was overwhelmed, and a hope for lasting connection to the God I had yet to meet. 

The Jewish faith has a version of this. It’s a prayer from Deuteronomy 6 that for many is spoken daily, morning and evening, and in temple services. It’s called the Shema, and it’s quoted by Jesus in today’s reading from Mark 12. When the scribes and Sadducees came to probe Jesus about His understanding of Scripture, He was, naturally, able to answer their questions. One scribe in particular asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28). Jesus responded:

“The most important is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other command greater than these” (vv.29–31).

The scribe agreed, as Jesus was referencing the central command of the Jewish faith, given to the Israelites after the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 6:4–5). This command begins with the Hebrew word shema, which means “to hear” or “listen” and also implies action—a life lived wholly loyal to God. It’s as if Moses was saying, “Pay attention! This is important!” The Shema is a reminder of who God is: the one true God, who loves us. Because He loves us, we’re to love Him back with everything we’ve got: our whole being, affection, intention, and will—our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

The Shema is the foundational principle for every other commandment that comes before and after it. Perhaps, in giving His people a Law they could not keep (Joshua 22:5; 24:21–24; Matthew 5:17), God wanted to remind His people of the one thing truly necessary for covenant relationship with Him. Jesus praises the scribe for understanding what is at the heart of the entire Law. 

God gave everything of Himself to restore relationship with us—from humbling Himself to be born as a baby to dying a painful death on the cross. He’s devoted and wants our devotion. He wants us to actively love Him, and then display that love by loving our fellow image-bearers as He does (Genesis 1:27; Mark 12:31). No, we won’t always get it right, but He knew that too! So, He sent His Spirit to make us more like Jesus, to love like Him and shape our lives around Him. Jesus is the touchstone and the cornerstone (Mark 12:10–11). Everything begins and ends—then begins again—with this God who loved us first (1 John 4:19).

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38 thoughts on "Jesus Gives the Greatest Commandment"

  1. June Pimpo says:


  2. Brandy Deruso says:

    Lord i thank you

  3. Melissa Mcronney says:

    Fathet in heaven, help me to love You with all of me.

  4. Alexis Mendibles says:


  5. Terany Garnett says:

    I love that Jesus loved whenever people asked questions, He loved the desire to know more or to understand the basics again. Matt 18 speaks about child-like faith and it’s respected here as well. Effort and desire to understand God so your love won’t shake bc you know

  6. Patti Bryce says:

    A few years ago, my son said, of himself, “I know a lot about God, but I don’t know God.” That set me on a path of prayer and repentance… on a journey of asking God to reveal Himself to me (and to my children). In the last year and a half, I have longed for God to respond to a heartache and change a situation in a way that “I know” would bring Him glory. Instead, His Truth and power have been changing my heart. I grew up under the teaching of Scripture (as an MK, pastor’s wife, missionary) and am so very aware of how easy it is to know the Scripture but not know God – not experience the transformation of a belief or attitude by His Word and Spirit. With thanks to God’s mercy and patience(!), I have experienced that over and over in the last few years. God is at work to set me free and teach me His heart. I am desperate to hear Him. As Jesus the Messiah entered Jerusalem, the people believe Him to be the Messiah. Truth. What captures my attention is that they wanted and expected Him to change their world. He came to change hearts. I sit in that space often.

  7. Kate Condran says:

    Love this reminder that the Shema points us to a deeper need for Jesus.

  8. Karen Roper says:

    This chapter seems to comprise all those hard questions. Jesus answers them all but some seem made up to trick Him. I love how Jesus just answers- He doesn’t get impatient and probably never rolled His eyes. May I be more patient and living to people❤️❤️

  9. Heather Lopez-Renteria says:


  10. Natasha R says:

    Mark 12:30-31 sound like such simple commands, and for that I am grateful. I don’t need to remember a long list of dos and don’t’s. However, they can be hard to obey! And for that I am grateful for the guidance and strength that come from the Holy Spirit. Our God equips us fully to understand and obey his commands.

  11. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I pray that I would have the passion to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Also, I need his strength to love my neighbor as myself.

  12. Bridgette says:

    Thank you for your post today TRACI GENDRON. This is my prayer too. ❤️

  13. Mercy says:

    Jesus sat and observed how people gave their money into the donation box. The way and the amount we give matter to God. Jesus sat, watched and analyzed. “Render to Caesar what is Caesar, and render to God what is God’s”. Render tax money to the government, render to God what has God’s image- which is us, we are made in the honorable image of God.

    Render yourselves to the Lord, give Him all of you, surrender all (your plans, your dreams, your hopes) to the Lord, and He will lift you up. The tenant farmers failed recognize and give back to the Vineyard Owner what belonged to Him, they even went further to kill the servants He sent, and then His son. Let us not be like that. Let us recognize what truly belongs to God.

    “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

    “For the LORD is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
    In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
    The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.
    Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
    For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.
    Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.
    (Psalm 95:3-8)

  14. Dorothy says:

    When Kara called Mark 12:29-31 the Shema which I never knew to be the main Jewish prayer. I love the knowledge I gain in these devotions.
    Have a great day my sisters.

  15. Melody Bates says:

    I just love how God is opening my eyes to connections between the OT and NT. I was unaware of the connection of the Lord’s Prayer to the Shema until today.

    I read about surrendering control of everything to God in my devotional this morning an it so connects with today’s reading about loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If you give any part of that to the control of anything or anyone else then you are committing idolatry.

    Father God, I pray that I am surrendering my life to you in an acceptable manner. Search my heart, O God, and if there is anything or anyone that has control over me other than You, remove it now. Amen

  16. Mary Stilin says:


  17. Traci Gendron says:

    Joshua 22:5 to love the Lord your God, walk in ALL his ways, keep his commands, be loyal to him, and serve him with ALL your heart and ALL your soul. How often do I walk away from my morning study and fall back into complacency? Pulled back by the world. I pray to remember what I just studied and let it mold me into being more like Jesus.

  18. Emily McGrath says:


  19. Sarah Ritchie says:

    I love this Shannan. Powerful reminder for today.

  20. Jill Lee says:

    It strikes me how sincerely wrong the chief priests, scribes and Sadducees were. They devoted their entire lives to a set of beliefs that at their heart missed it completely because they were not motivated by love for God and others- the central and foundational commands. How often do we get it wrong for the same reason?

  21. Monie Mag says:

    Jesus told the sadducees they didn’t know the scriptures or the power of God. This probably didn’t go over well for a group that were suppose to be experts in the first books of the Bible. If I don’t know scripture, God’s word=truth, if I don’t know God’s power it would be easy to doubt God’s ability to actually do what he promises. I’m so thankful for the freedom to read and study God’s word=truth with all of you. Praying we all walk in the truth and power of the one true God❣️

  22. Rhonda J. says:

    Good morning! If you have not watched yet the show The Chosen, I encourage you to do so! It really shows what we are reading in this study and leading up to Easter in such a relatable way! I know you will love it!

  23. Maura says:

    Jane K praying with you for your friend. Eyes to see. Know that your faithfulness to the Lord and grace to her in love will be felt, even if she can’t acknowledge Him right now. God is speaking through your kindness and love and strength. He is planting more seeds. Hugs to you Jane.

  24. KJ Johnson says:

    The chapter to me is showing the baseline of ownership and surrender. The parable shows the greed of the vineyard tenants beating and killing the owners servants and son. Not willing to acknowledge this land and property belongs to him, just like so many in the world today not willing to acknowledge the world and everyone in it belong to God. He has given us to opportunity to live here and enjoy it and each other. Mark then moves to questioning Jesus, where he finally quiets their questions over taxes- give to Ceasers what is Ceasers, another example of ownership and surrendering. Bottom line again to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. Then he seals the deal with the widow and her 2 coins. Proving her great faith and dependence on God, and proves her humility. This is a lot to contemplate through my day. I pray the Lord to do a work in my heart that leads me to her level of humility
    , faith and ❤️

  25. Maura says:

    Lord help me to love you with all I am and to love my neighbor as myself. To know, like the widow, that giving all you give to me, whether money, talent, love, back into your hands multiplies with and in your love and then your gifts and the opening of my hands avail so much. Please Lord help me to love my neighbors better show me the opportunities. Hugs Sisters another week is upon us may it be full of Jesus joy, warmth, love and grace.

  26. Jane K says:

    I have a close friend who once walked closely with the Lord. Through studying the Bible and meeting with a Rabbi to better understand the Old Testament, she and her fellow Bible study group rejected the Cornerstone, Jesus. My heart aches for her and her family. Today again, I lift her up to the Lord and ask that He would open her eyes to the truth before it is too late.

  27. Tiffany C says:

    I’m observing how Jesus responds to questions from various people. He doesn’t respond to their question, but responds to their hearts. He addresses and corrects their doubt and skepticism, and reinforces the scribe’s knowledge of the greatest commandments. Reflecting on my prayer life, it’s been less prayer than other times, but Jesus’ interaction with those reassures me that I might not ask or pray the right things but He will respond. He’ll correct me if I’m wrong, He’ll guide me on the right path, He’ll see beyond what I say or what I pray.

  28. Linda Gilbow says:

    For years there’s been a teaching that says we have to love ourselves FIRST before we can love others. However, all through Scripture we’re admonished to get our concentration OFF of our SELF, and onto others. How enlightening that the 2 greatest commandments don’t mention loving ourselves except as a barometer of how we’re to love others. This fits well with the golden rule. God’s Word is powerful and puts everything in the proper perspective. Glory!

  29. Deb Ireland says:

    When I read this story it reminds me that God is concerned with our heart more than anything else. The woman gave all out of her love for God, not out of greed or a desire to look good. The most important thing God calls us to do is to love Him with all that we are. I like how Joshua 22:5 says to “cling to Him and serve Him.” When I love Him and walk with Him, I have the strength to serve Him fully.

  30. Jordyn Cristiano says:

    I wonder if like the woman with her last two cents we, at times, are called to give our time/ energy out of our lack. Trusting that the Lord will sustain us and provide us with the energy and strength we need to continue.

  31. Malorie Kahl says:


  32. Shannan Ward says:

    while we are alive what a great opportunity we have every day we get to LIVE…our God is a God of the living!! Mark 12:27…it doesn’t matter how far you’ve fallen His POWER (Mark 12:24) can break any chain and help us to climb out of the pit of shame the devil tries to entrap us in and shake the dust off, embrace His grace and go forth…LOVING God first, understanding His Love for us and ultimately loving others… this world is full of hurting and broken people who just need to see the love of Jesus in your eyes, in your words, in your simple seemingly small actions… acknowledging the custodian in the bathroom, the person in traffic next to you, the child who falls on the playground, the person in the elevator next to you, whatever it is, today is a gift of life and the dark world needs us to shine Jesus…be the light, choose love today.

  33. Shaena Elizabeth says:

    Happy Holy Week! I pray the Holy Spirit strengthens my faith to the level of the poor widow giving her last two coins. Living with an abundance mindset has always been a stumbling block for me which is funny because I have never really lacked anything I needed. Lord help me to surrender to you and live out the most important commandments of loving you and loving my neighbors.

  34. ERB says:

    LOVE the definition of SHEMA: “to hear” or “listen” and also implies action—a life lived wholly loyal to God.

    I also love how Mark 12:28-31 referenced what we just got done studying about in Joshua… choosing God above everything else!!!

    And I know this may seem weird but every single time I read how WISELY Jesus answered the Sadducees and Pharisees (& everyone else that surrounded Him) I am truly AMAZED!!!! We serve such a WISE and ALL-KNOWING Father… I am incredibly thankful ❤️❤️❤️

  35. McLean Murphy says:

    Love this insight!

  36. Angie says:

    So much beauty this morning.
    The breath of each day: “Listen, O Israel! (O daughter, O son, O follower of Jesus) The Lord our God, the Lord is the one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And… Love your neighbor as yourself.” (This is how we live, move, breathe, respond.)
    The scribe in verse 32 had ears to hear. Although he was a part of a system of religiosity not relationship, his heart was searching for the truth, for the Messiah. Standing next to Jesus, with open ears to hear and a heart soft, his seeking heart found its place. (We live amongst a system of religiosity and unbelief today. As daughters of Christ though, the Holy Spirit has been given to live within us. He prepares our ears to hear and softens the callouses edging our hearts. We are not far from the kingdom of God. As our Creator God has given us breath for this day, may we use it to, love Him with all we are, heart, soul, mind, and strength, and show His love to others.)
    Finally, the poor widow who gave all. Upon appearance it seemed like two coins would do little compared to the large amounts dropped in by the rich people. But two coins, given with a right heart to God, is a treasure. (Let us give our all, in love, for our Lord and our neighbors, daily. Our King will use our all to work the best in us, and for His kingdom. It may not seem much to us, but our hands emptied into the hands of God in step by step obedience & faithfulness is a beautiful treasure.)

  37. Churchmouse says:

    “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” (Mark 12: 24)

    This question posed by Jesus reminds me to check all opinions, especially my own, to His standard. Therein lies Truth.

  38. Tracy Mattison Brandon says:

    What true love we demonstrate when we give out of our lack like the woman with the two coins. I love how Jesus used parables to help illustrate principles of God, His Word and His love. Just like the woman who gave her all, so did Jesus. He never asks of us what he wasn’t willing to do. It is with all our heart, soul mind and strength that that we live a life that is loyal to God!