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When motivated by love

One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. ’The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:28-34

From the text, the teacher of the law came to Jesus realizing what loving God really meant. He thought at first that loving God was expressed by doing things for God. An example he cited was “to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” Then Christ made this remark, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” What Christ was after was not just the observance of religious ritual, for example to offer burnt offerings and sacrifices. What was the motive behind your observance of religious practice or ritual? Was it because Christ has the preeminence in your life or do you expect something in return from God after you have done your religious duties? Jesus asked Simon Peter three times after His resurrection from the dead this question, “Simon, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15). Jesus asking Him this question three times prompted him to recall his three denials of his allegiance to Jesus. Peter already repented about his failure to admit his relationship with God before others and shed tears over his failure but Christ’s purposely asked the question so he will realize that he honestly regret what had happened in the past and this time his goal is to love God. Peter just experienced the restoration of his relationship with God. He was also treated in seeing the power of God when he and the other fishermen went back without a single catch then Jesus appeared and told them to throw the net on the other side and they had a huge amount of fish in their boats. The phrase in Jesus’ question to Peter, “more than these things,” imply that even without the bounty of a great catch, the acclaim of good reputation or fame, and without the comfort of a good life will he be still loving God more than anything else? It is easy to talk about the love of Christ for mankind but difficult to think about man’s love for Him. Could others tell that you love Jesus by the way you live? Do people around you see that you love Jesus above everything else? After Peter responded three times to Jesus’ question about his unwavering love for Him, later on in his life he demonstrated this by how he lived obeying Christ’s command: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).


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