Day 15

Jesus Gives the Greatest Commandment

from the Mark reading plan

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

BY Kara Gause

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).

Post Comments (37)

37 thoughts on "Jesus Gives the Greatest Commandment"

  1. Kate Condran says:

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

  2. 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❤️❤️

  3. Heather Lopez-Renteria says:


  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Bridgette says:

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

  7. 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)

  8. 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.

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