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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


The Most Important

February 17, 2013

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’” Mark 12:28,29 (NIV)

It’s the Tuesday before Jesus’ crucifixion on Friday. He’s in the temple courts, and the others who questioned Jesus that day sought to trip Him up. They asked Him about His source of authority (11:28), whether taxes should be paid to Caesar (12:14), and even an absurd question regarding the wife who had seven husbands who died in succession — and whose wife would she be in the resurrection (12:23). None of these questioners really wanted answers — even though they received them.

But, now, before us comes what appears to be an honest man. He’s impressed with Jesus, as well he should be. He notes that Jesus had previously given a “good answer.”

As an expert himself in the Law, he had listened to Jesus parry the trap questions. He became impressed that Jesus indeed might know the answer to the question all the others had missed. The essential question was not about taxes or whose wife would she be. The question was: “What’s life all about? What are the basic principles by which we must live? What are the core values that guide us in the journey of life? Is there a road map to get us through?”

The answer to all the above questions becomes settled if we know the primary question — the question that separates the main things from the subordinate things. The right question keeps us from chasing hobbyhorses or side trails. We must focus on the important things, not the lesser. So, the teacher asked Jesus, “What’s the main thing?”

Jesus’ answer is found in Deuteronomy 6:4. Every Jewish child is taught this response from the earliest age of learning. The name of the recitation is called the Shema — in Hebrew, meaning to hear or listen.

Let’s consider the meaning of the first words of the Shema — “Hear [Shema], O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This phrase is a preface before we get to the two main commandments: Love God, and love one another.

Jesus’ answer shows His alignment with the faith of Israel. He affirms there is only one God. God is not divided. He does not send mixed messages. There are not many varieties of avenues to Him that contradict one another. He is One. As Christians, we understand that oneness of God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit — one God, not three.

And, the One God is the God of Israel. That is to say, Jesus affirms the revelation of God given to Israel through the Law and the Prophets — that they have the correct representation of God. Jesus does not say, “God of the Greek philosophers, God of Roman pagans, or God of anything else.” While the existence of God may be seen through His creation, and the moral force of God may be seen through conscience, the revelation of His identity and character can be found only within the revelation given to Israel.

Jesus will complete that revelation by bringing to fulfillment everything the Hebrew Scriptures pointed toward.

A prayer of response
O God, I thank You that You have not hidden yourself, but have revealed who You are through the Law and the Prophets, and at the last, through Jesus Christ, Your Son.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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