Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 16 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Mark 12 today, and our focus is on which side is Jesus on, and what He said was the most important command.  Thank you for joining us for Bible 2021! We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in London, England, Ontario, Canada, West Bengal, India, Monterey/Salinas, California, Los Angeles California and Meridian, Mississippi.  Thanks for listening! Our focus this year is on DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan! 

Lots to cover today in just 10 minutes, so let’s dive in. First, allow me to court a little bit of controversy. During Jesus’ day, there were political and theological factions in Israel, in a similar, but not exact manner as today. The more conservative group or party were the Pharisees, who tended to stick closer to the facts and teachings of the Bible. The Sadducees, on the other hand, were more liberal in many ways and more sophisticated in a worldly sense. They seemed to take many of the stories of Scripture as allegories and did not believe in some of the more supernatural elements of the Bible, such as angels, spirits and the resurrection. We learn this in Acts 23:8

For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and neither angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all. Acts 23:8

Am I saying that the Pharisees were Republican and the Sadducees were Democrats? No, there is not a one to one comparison there. BUT, I do note that both the conservative religious leaders and the liberal religious/government leaders of Jesus’ day were by and large very, very opposed to Him…and ultimately, both parties worked to bring about His crucifixion. What can we learn from this? Perhaps we can learn to not assume that Jesus is particularly favorable to one party or one position. Who’s side is God on? I find Joshua 5 quite instructive here:

13 When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” he replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.” Joshua 5:13-14

Who’s side is God on? I would say the answer is neither, and the real important question is more along the lines of, “Are we on God’s side?”

Of more importance, and I think I am justified in saying that, considering the ranking that Jesus gives this topic, is the greatest and most important commandment. Let’s read our passage, and find out what answer Jesus gives when asked that question.

“Which command is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.31 The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

When Jesus tells us that something is MOST important, we should listen…and I don’t believe this teaching of Jesus receives quite as much attention as it should.

Let’s close out with some brief wisdom from John Piper on the first and greatest command:

Without doubt, for human beings the affection of love is “well-placed and successful” when placed in God. For this is the first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matthew 22:37). So the most excellent soul is the soul that loves God most. And to the degree that such love is openly manifest, to that degree is the loving soul revealed in its worth and beauty.

John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, Rev. and expanded. (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2000), 19.

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for January: Mark 1:15 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

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