Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Daily Devotion for Lent 2015, Day 30

Daily Devotion for Lent

Tuesday, March 24, 2015, Day 30

Mark 12:13-34 (NRSV)

Which of the commandments in the Bible would be the greatest?

If we went with one of the ten, we would not be in agreement with Jesus.

In fact, Jesus picks the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 which would have been widely known among all Jewish people.  We are to love God with all our being.

Then he pairs it with an obscure passage from Leviticus 19:18.  We are to love our neighbors just as we would love ourselves.

As we see these two things coming together, we remember that Jesus has lifted up those in previous passages that we might otherwise overlook.  We equate welcoming children with welcoming Jesus.

Now we see that loving our neighbor is almost equated with loving God.

If we look to the first story in today's reading, we can see that their trap for Jesus goes south.  They hoped that Jesus would either say "Pay your taxes" which would make all the zealots angry or that he would say, "Don't pay your taxes" which would get him arrested by the Romans.

Instead Jesus asks to see a coin.  When they produce one with the image of the Emperor on it, Jesus announces their complicity with Rome to the world.  If they were truly righteous, they would only carry Jewish money - especially in the vicinity of the Temple (which was why the money changers were set up in the first place).

By the declaration to give to Rome what is Rome's, Jesus is telling them, you might as well pay your taxes to this foreign government because you are already declaring your allegiance.
In the end, isn't what Jesus saying is that
it all belongs to God?

As we see that we are to "Give to God what is God's" we may look to the final passage about sacrifice and burnt offerings in verse 33. Giving to God means loving our neighbors.

This is something the keepers of the Law failed to comprehend.

As I seek to make loving God and loving neighbor the priorities for my life, I also look to this middle passage about the resurrection.  If God is the God of the living, I might do well to consider those whom I would relegate to the back burners of life.  If we have eternity together, I would like for us to be on friendly terms before we arrive.

How are these twin commandments to love God and love the other the greatest in your life?

Prayer by Woody Guthrie:

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway,
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
O'er the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
While all around me a voice was sounding, saying
This land was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple
In the relief office, I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry I stood there asking,
--Is this land made for you and me?


"This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie, (c) 1956 and 1958 by Lidlow Music Inc.

Picture from wikimedia commons.

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