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Mark 12:28-34

Background: The teacher of law in our text had just heard the debate about the resurrection of the deadhow Jesus made the Sadducees totally speechless. The question of the greatest commandment of the law was the hot theological topic of discussion. For example, the first commandment, the Sabbath commandment or the commandments to sacrifice were proposed.

Verse 28. According to Matthew, this man tried to test Jesus.

Verses 29-30. The double commandment of love is not found in the Old Testament. However, these verses are a direct quote from the books of Moses (Deut. 6:4-5).

Verse 31. In the Old Testament the word “neighbour” mostly refers to the members of one’s own people only. Here Jesus is quoting only half of a verse of the book of Moses: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:18).

Let’s reconsider verses 29-31, i.e. the double commandment of love in its entirety. Note that Jesus does not claim that to love God is the greatest and to love the neighbour is the second greatest commandment.

Verses 32-33. The sacrifices were the foundation of Jewish worship life. There could be no relationship with God without sacrifices because reconciliation with God was made by sacrifice.

Verse 34

Glad tidings: Jesus loved God above all and you more than himself. Sacrifice and love were united in him. He sacrificed himself as a sin offering because we have not loved God above all things nor loved our neighbour as ourselves. Only Jesus’ sacrificial love for us can teach us to love God and our neighbour. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

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