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Mark 12:28-24 THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE
Intro: Ill. The Context. In the Jewish books of the Law, the first 5
books of our English Bibles, there are 613 laws given to men. Of these laws, 248 are
considered positives in nature while 365 are considered to be negative. That is, some
compel men to do certain things while others forbid men from certain activities. It is
these 613 Laws that formed the basis for Jewish belief and practice and it seems to have
been the practice of the religious elite, the Pharisees and the Scribes, or the
"doctors and the lawyers", (Ill. Luke 11:46 is often misinterpreted and
misapplied.), to spend most of their time debating which of these 613 laws was the
greatest in importance. Therefore, this lawyers's question seems to have at least been
legitimate. Having said all that, it is Christ's answer to this man that is of the supreme
importance. Jesus takes all 613 rules and regulations and sums them up in 2 great
statements of divine truth. Jesus, in essence, boils all the Law, the Commandments and all
the teachings of the prophets down into one word: Love.
This kind of love is defined and explained by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor.
13:1-13, (read and comment). As he concludes his thoughts on the idea of love, Paul says
that of all the things that remain in the world, love is the greatest of all.
Tonight, I would like to take these simple words of Jesus and preach for
awhile on the subject, "The Greatest Of These Is Love." As I do, please be aware
that Jesus takes our whole lives and our entire purpose for existing in this world and
sums it up in these few verses. Let's look for a while at that thought, "The Greatest
Of These Is Love."
I. V. 29-31 THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS
A. V. 29-30 The Supreme Commandment - In these
verses, Jesus tells man that he has the responsibility to love God ahead of everything
else in this world and that he is to love the Lord with every faculty of his being. Jesus
begins by quoting what is called the "Shema." This is a quotation of Deut.
6:4-5, this passage was quoted by every Jew every day during his prayer time. In doing so,
he was reminding himself that there is no other God but Jehovah and that anything that
occupied first place in his life ahead of God was, in essence, an idol, or a false god.
(Ill. This is still true today. Like the Jews of old, we must be certain
that God occupies the first place in our lives, ahead of every other love or allegiance,
Col. 1:18! Ill. We say He is first, then we place other things ahead of Him and His will
for our lives! Our actions speak louder than our words! In these words of Jesus, we can
see that He intends for us to place the Lord God ahead of everything else in life. Notice
areas in which we are to love the Lord supremely.
1. All Our Heart - Sometimes the word heart is
used to refer to the seat of our emotions, but that is not the intention here. What Jesus
is saying is that we are to love the Lord without pretense. We are to be genuine or our
love for Him and not to just say we love that Lord and then live as if He didn't exist. We
are to be genuine in our love and not be hypocrites.
(Ill. "Cross my heart and hope to die")
2. All Our Soul - This involves the idea of our
emotions. We are not to love God with some kind of dry, antiseptic love, but we are to be
emotional in our love for Him. That is, our love for God should touch us at our most
intimate levels. We are to love the Lord with all our emotional self.
3. All Our Mind - That is, we are to involve the
intellect in our live for the Lord. This love is not mindless and empty-headed, but we are
to love the Lord because we have considered Him, meditated on Him and therefore make a
conscious decision to love the Lord. In other words, you shouldn't love God just because
the preachers says so, but you should love Him because of who He is and what He has done
4. All Our Strength - This implies that our love
for the Lord is not to be a thing that is done in word alone, but should also see
expression in our physical bodies. If we love the Lord, then the body is His as well. We
have no right to divorce the physical from the spiritual. True love for Jesus is always
carried out by the physical man, as well as the spiritual.
(Ill. If all of these things are taken together, it becomes clear that
the Lord is telling us to love God with perfect sincerity, the utmost of fervency, with
the fullest exercise of an enlightened reason and with the entire energy of our being.
This is the spirit of the greatest commandment!)
(Ill. True love for Jesus manifests itself in every area of life. Do you
love His people, His Word, His House, His Work, His world, His commandments, His worship,
etc as you should?)
(Ill. Following a great victory, King Cyrus of Persia
took as prisoners a noble prince, his wife, and their children. When they were brought
into the leader's tent to stand before him, Cyrus said to the prince, "What will you
give me if I set you free?" He replied, "I will give you half of all that I
possess." "And what will you give me if I release your children?" continued
Cyrus. "Your majesty, I will give you all that I possess." The king questioned
him further, "But what will you give me if I set your wife at liberty?" Looking
at the one he loved so dearly, the prince replied without hesitation, "If you will
restore my wife to freedom, I will give you my life." Cyrus was so moved by his
devotion that he released the entire family without asking recompense. That evening the
prince said to his wife, "Did you not think Cyrus a very handsome man?" "I
did not notice him," she answered, "Why, my dear, where were your eyes?"
exclaimed her husband. She replied, "I had eyes only for the one who said he would
lay down his life for me.")
(Ill. Max Lucado tells one of the fascinating tales
of the Taj Mahal: "The favorite wife of the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan died.
Devastated, he resolved to honor her by constructing a temple that would serve as her
tomb. Her coffin was placed in the center of a large parcel of land, and construction the
temple began around it. No expense would be spared to make her final resting place
"But as the weeks turned into months, the Shah's grief
was eclipsed by his passion for the project. He no longer mourned her absence. The
construction consumed him. One day, while walking from one side of the construction site
to the other, his leg bumped against a wooden box. The prince brushed the dust off his leg
and ordered the worker to throw the box out.
"Shah Jahan didn't know he had ordered the disposal of
the coffin--now forgotten--hidden beneath layers of dust and time. The one the temple was
intended to honor was forgotten, but the temple was erected anyway. Could someone build a
temple and forget why? Could someone construct a palace, yet forget the king?
"The next time you enter an assembly of worship,
position yourself where you can see the people. Then decide. You can tell ones who
remember the slain one. They're wide-eyed and expectant. They're children watching the
unwrapping of a gift. They're servants standing still as a king passes. You don't doze in
the presence of royalty. And you don't yawn while receiving a gift, especially when the
giver is the king himself!
"You can also tell the ones who see only the temple.
Their eyes wander. Their feet shuffle. Their hands doodle, and their mouths open--not to
sing, but to yawn. For not matter how hard they try to stay amazed, their eyes start to
glaze over. All temples, even the Taj Mahal, lose their luster after a while.
"The temple gazers don't mean to be bored. They love
the church. They don't mean to grow stale. They put on hats and hose and coats and ties
and come every week. But still, something is missing. The One they once planned to honor
hasn't been seen in a while.
"But those who have seen Him can't seem to forget Him.
They find Him, often in spite of the temple rather than because of it. They brush the dust
away and stand ever impressed before His tomb--His empty tomb."
[Spirit of Revival, Apr 1994. Pages 4-5.])
(Ill. V. 30 - "Thy" - It impossible for men
to properly love the Lord until he personally knows the Lord! 1 John 4:19 makes this
abundantly clear to us. We do not have the capacity to love Him until He first calls us
into a relationship with Himself. After salvation, then it is possible to love the Lord.)
B. V. 31 The Secondary Commandment - (Ill. To
call it secondary is misleading, because both of these are so closely intertwined. In
fact, it is absolutely impossible to do either one without the other!)
(Ill. In giving us what He called the second great commandment, Jesus
quoted from Leviticus 19:18.)
Jesus is simply telling us that we are to love others with the same love
which we bestow upon ourselves. That is, we are to place others in such a position that we
are constantly looking out for their best interests, their welfare and their best good,
Phil. 2:3; Rom. 12:10. The whole idea here is that we are to love others with the same
type of compassion and obligation that we feel toward ourselves.
(Ill. If we were all honest, we think pretty highly of old self!
Therefore, we are to show this same regard for those around us! Ill. How this love
manifests itself - Forgiveness, peace, unity, compassion, witnessing, etc.)
(Ill. In English, we speak in what is know as "person." If I
am referring to my self, I will say, "I am." That is known as the "first
person." If I were speaking to you, I might say, "You are." That is the
"second person." Then, it I were speaking of another, I might say, "He
is." That is know as the "third person." In English, we always have self
first. However, in Hebrew, it is just the opposite. First Person says, "He is";
Second Person says, "You are"; Third Person says, "I am". Therein is
contained the formula for joy in this life. If we will learn to place God in the first
person, others in the second person and if we will be willing to take the third person,
then we will have our lives in order.)
(Ill. The true formula for joy is:
J - Jesus
O - Others
Y - Yourself)
(Ill. Genuine love is sacrificial - In sixteenth
century England, Oliver Cromwell ordered that a soldier be shot for his crimes at the
ringing of the evening bell. But that night at the fateful hour, no sound came from the
belfry. The girl who was to be married to the condemned man had climbed up into the tower
and had clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. Brought before
Cromwell to give an account of her actions, she only wept and showed him her bruised and
bleeding hands. Cromwell was greatly impressed, and he said, "Your lover is alive
because of your sacrifice. He will not be shot!" )
C. The Specifics Of These Commandments - When
Jesus used the word love, He could have chosen one of 4 Greek words to have used. He could
have used Storgh, Eros, Phileo, or Agape. One of these Eros, refers to "erotic or sexual love." Storgh, refers to the love of things. Phileao
speaks of tender affection for someone. Agape, on the other
hand refers to a never-ending, unchanging, all-consuming love for someone. This is not the
kind of feeling that appears for a time than changes or disappears. Agape love is forever!
It is the kind of love with which God loves sinners. It is a genuine, heartfelt,
all-encompassing love that cannot and will be changed by circumstance. It is a love that
loves without regard for the worth of the object being loved. This is more that simple
affection or some emotional feeling. It is a decision of the will! This is the kind of
love that can be seen. Ill. God's love - Rom. 5:8. Our love for Christ is visible as well,
John 14:15-24; 15:10-14.
(Ill The 5-year-old boy became
angry with his mother and decided to run away from home. He walked out of his house with a
small suitcase and trudged around the block again and again. Finally, when it was
beginning to grow dark, the policeman stopped him, "What's the idea?" The little
boy answered, "I'm runnin' away." The officer smiled as he said, "Look,
I've had my eye on you, and you've been doing nothing but walking around the block. You
call that running away?" The little fellow burst into tears, "Well, what do you
want me to do? I ain't allowed to cross the street." The youngster obviously
respected his parents and knew that they loved him. He couldn't really run away. )
I. The Characteristics Of The Great
II. V. 31b THE COMPLETENESS OF THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS
A. In Matthew 22:40, Jesus said that all the other commandments hang on
these 2. That is, if I love the Lord as I should, I will not sin against Him. If I love my
neighbor as I should, neither will I offend him.
B. We could have entitled this study "The Law Of Love." When
our love life is right, then we will treat everyone, from God on down, as they ought to be
treated. However, when there is a problem with love for the Lord, there will be things
done that slight Him. And, when we are out of line with God, it is far easier to harm
others! Also, allow me to say that when there is a problem between us and a fellow man, it
is an indication that there are problems in our love life!
C. What Jesus is telling us is that we can always be assured that we
will do the right thing by God and by our fellow man if we will love the Lord supremely,
with everything we have and are, and if we will simply love those around us as strongly as
we love ourselves. If we can do these 2 things, we need not worry about right and wrong,
or even about sinning. If we love God and others as we should, we will live our lives in a
I. The Character Of The Great Commandments
II. The Completeness Of The Great Commandments
III. THE COST OF THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS
A. If we are going to fulfill these Great Commandments, we need to be
aware that it will cost us something. It can be done, but the cost isn't cheap!
B. If I am going to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength,
then it is going to mean that I am going to have to place His will ahead of mine. It means
that I may have to say no to some things that I might want to do. It means that I am going
to have to seek the Lord's will and make it paramount in my life. It may mean that I can't
go places others can go, I can watch what others watch, I can't enjoy what they enjoy. All
I am saying is that you can have anything you want! You can either live to please yourself
and the flesh, or you can devote yourself to pleasing the Lord. The choice is yours!
(Ill. Don't think that serving God allows for no fun, but God does have
rules and He expects His children to obey them and yield to them in their lives. It may
cost to love Him with everything in you, but it is worth it!)
C. If I am going to love my neighbor as I love myself, it will cost me
as well! I may have to eat some crow. I may have to seek forgiveness when I have done no
wrong. I may have to sacrifice something I think I need to meet a brother's need. I may
have to give up time to help someone. I may have to spend time in prayer for them, go to
them, reach out to them in the name of the Lord. It may mean that I cannot sit back and
watch the world go by, but I may have to become involved. However, when I love others as I
should, I am simply proving that I do indeed belong to the Lord Jesus - 1 John 4:20-21; 1
John 4:12; 1 John 3:14-15.
Conc: How well do you love tonight? Is your love for God all that it
should be? Do you pray to Him as you should? Are you in His Word as you should be? Are
there people or things that have crept in and taken over first place in your life? Is
Jesus somewhere down the life after some person, some thing, or ever yourself? What about
your love for others? Is it all it could be? I am simply trying to get you to see tonight
that if your really want to please the Lord, then there are only 2 things that are
necessary. 1.) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul,
with all thy mind and with all thy strength. 2.) Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
What about it?