The Gospel passage in Mark comes from the section that details the controversies of Jesus with his opponents. Jesus meets a scribe who asks a familiar question: which of the 631 precepts of the law are most important.
To answer him, Jesus quotes passages from Deuteronomy 4, 5 and Leviticus 19, 18. He goes directly to the heart of the matter to the roots of the law, thus establishing that his rabbinic teaching is orthodox. Jesus also sees that this interrogator is sincere of heart and without hostility and expresses approval of his search. Commentators write that in this dialog nothing new comes to light. Obviously, the scribe is acquainted with the prophets by his inclusion of references from Hosea 6, 6 and 1 Samuel 15, 22. It is the word LOVE that connects these texts in the Torah: the LOVE of God and LOVE of neighbor is the underlying principle of the sacrificial system of the Jews.
It is readily clear that Jesus speaks these texts imperatively. These are the center of the law. These are the words that the ordinary Jew recites three times every day. Jesus himself lived that obediently. Rubric matters and many other precepts fall in line only if these remain at the heart of the law.
Further reflection upon the life of Son who ultimately undergoes rejection, torture, and death in order to surrender completely to the love of his Father gives us greater understanding of the meaning of this law to Jesus. The last words Jesus uttered to the scribe, “you are not far from the kingdom of God,” evokes certainty. Jesus alone is the great high priest of the eternal covenant.
Matthew 11:25ff is text of a prayer of Jesus to his Father in the midst of his ministry. To me, it is an Intimation of the intimacy he, his Father and the Spirit mean to share with those who believe him.
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