In Deuteronomy chapter 6 we are introduced to one of the most central portions of Scripture to the Jewish people. Moses is in the process of reminding the people of what God has been teaching them these past 40 years, as well as encouraging them as they prepare to enter the Promise Land (without Moses)… imploring them to obey God in all things. In Deut 6:4-7 we see what will become known as “The Shema”. This would become (and continues to stand today) as the key important passage of the entire Bible to the Jews.

 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deut 6:4-7

The Shema is aptly named after it’s first word, “Hear!”. It basically means “Listen up, Israel!”. It then goes on to command us to love God with all of our heart (desires, dreams) – with all of our soul (emotions, personality) – and with all of our strength (might, ability). After which – God instructs them to make this (and the rest of the commandments) centered upon their entire lives. Involve them in every area in which you live – teach them to your children – talk about them – make them important.

By the time Jesus came – the Jews had developed these commandments literally into their daily lives. They organized their day around the reciting of the Shema. They wore copies of this passage in little boxes on their foreheads and arms… as well as attaching a copy to the doorposts of their houses (as this passage goes on to teach).

To the Jews – the Shema represented all of life!

They would recite this passage every morning and every night. The first thing they did before they started their day was recite the Shema – and the last thing they did before ending their day was recite the Shema. (This reminded them to love God with everything that had).

The moment a child learns to speak – teach them the Shema” Jewish Rabbinical Proverb

The big question through the ages was – how do you do this?

How does one go about loving God with all of your heart – soul– strength? What does that look like in action? How would you know if you loved God that much? How could you measure that?

That is where Jesus comes in. According to Jesus, in Mark 12:29-31 – the Shema is the greatest of all the commandments. (Since Jesus was quickly gaining a reputation as a wise Rabbi – His response to this question would have been of great interest to the people of the day). But notice what else Jesus says…

The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

Notice Jesus links another passage along with the infamous Shema. Jesus pulls a part of Leviticus 19 into the conversation. He does this on purpose! Jesus isn’t just pulling scriptures out to wow the crowd – He is teaching them a huge point here. He is answering the big question of their day (and ours as well if we are honest).

How does one love God with all of their heart – soul – strength?

According to Jesus – you love your neighbor as yourself.

THAT is the love of God in action!

You cannot separate those two commandments.

You cannot love God without loving your neighbor as yourself!

You cannot love your neighbor with the love of God in your heart!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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