Between the time that Jesus entered Jerusalem in that last week and the Feast of Passover, he is recorded as having taught many lessons – many of them as parables.
But the lesson that stands out tonight is the one where the expert in the law asked Jesus about the first and greatest commandment. Jesus answered:
“The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” ~Peterson’s paraphrase Mark 12:29-31
I especially like the way Peterson translates our four-fold love for God … passon, prayer, intelligence, and energy … typically heart, soul, mind & strength.
- passion … enthusiastic diligence … fervor, zeal
- prayer … spiritual communing, conversation
- intelligence … reasoning, understanding, mental capacity
- energy … vigorous activity, exertion
Jesus reminds us to love God with all we’ve got! There is no holding back … no reservation … in totality!
But that second phrase … your neighbor as yourself … wow! There is a kindness, gentleness, in honor preferring the other … a taking care of, a surrendering of “it’s all about me!” And you ask … who is my neighbor? Jesus teaches us that our neighbor is the most unlikely person … the outcast, the one most unlike us … and our neighbor is the person in need of mercy on our path of life.
As I travel my path today, tomorrow … may I show mercy … be a neighbor … to those along the way … and love God passionately … with emotion, intelligence, and energy!
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
~E. H. Hull