The First Commandment

Mark 12:28-34 - And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32  And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33  And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. 34  And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.



A.    Verse 13 - The Pharisees had come to catch Christ in His words.

B.    Verse 18 - The Sadducees had come to catch Christ about the resurrection.

C.    Now this lawyer comes with this disputed question about the greatest commandment.


I.       The question.

A.    Curiosity.

1.      There seems to be some dispute among the religious leaders about which is chiefest commandment.

2.      It’s like asking which link in a chain is the most important.

3.      It’s like asking which member of a church is the most important.

4.      The Lord deals very graciously with this question.

B.    Anxiety.

1.      In the midst of trick questions, beware of the honest person who also asks a question.

2.      Verse 34 reveals that this questioner asks the question which brings him very near to the kingdom of God.

3.      Be very careful to answer questions properly.

4.      It is very difficult for us to discern the true spirit of a person.


II.    The answer - a call to:

A.    Attention.

1.      This question has already been answered in the Old Testament.

a.      Deut. 10:12,13 - And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13  To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

b.      Deut. 11:13 - And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

c.      This question and answer shows how far the Jews had forsaken and replaced the commandments of the Old Testament with their own commandments.

2.      This question needs to be answered, not just for the individual, but for all of Israel.

3.      The question needs to be answered for all unbelievers and believers alike.

B.    Faith in the Unity of God.

1.      Christ is telling the Jews that while there isn’t one of the ten commandments which explicitly states that the love for God is the first commandment and the love for men is the second commandment, the general tenure of the commandments is revealed in these two commandments.

2.      The Lord our God is one Lord - there is a trinity.

3.      II Cor 13:14 reveals the work of the trinity, but the trinity is never explained. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

4.      The trinity of the Godhead is never fully explained, it is revealed.

C.    Perfect surrender.

1.      Our total dedication is to be to God.

2.      There is a demand made upon:

a.      Our whole affections - all thy heart.

b.      Our whole life -all thy soul.

c.      Our whole thoughts - all thy mind.

d.      Our whole energy - all thy strength.

D.    Brotherly kindness.

1.      Verse 31 - The first commandment is tied to the second commandment.

2.      I John 4:11,12 - The love of God, and the love to God, will manifest itself in the love for others.

3.      I John 4:20 - If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?


III.  The effect.

A.    Acquiescence

1.      Verse 32 - There is agreement that Christ has spoken the truth.

2.      It is very possible to admit that Christ is right without submitting oneself to the one who is true and truth.

3.      A mental assent to the gospel of Christ is not the same as spiritual salvation.

B.    Commendation.

1.      Verse 34 - When Christ remarked that the man wasn’t far from the kingdom of God, it shows that before a person can be born again, he must mentally understand the means of salvation.

2.      Mental understanding is not salvation.

C.    A Coming Short.

1.      It is good to be near the kingdom, but better to be in the kingdom.

2.      It is good to mentally understand salvation, but better to be saved.

3.      Acts 26:28 - Agrippa told Paul he was almost persuaded to become a Christian.

4.      When a criminal ran to the city of refuge, he could still be killed at the gates of the city.  He couldn’t be killed inside the city.


It is significant to notice that verse 34 states that no man durst ask him any more questions.  They understood they could get no advantage over Him, because all His answers were unquestionable and unanswerable. Christ had silenced the Herodians, Sadducees, Scribes, and Pharisees.

Herodians - A Jewish political party who sympathized with the Herodian rulers in their general policy of government, and in the social customs which they introduced from Rome. They were at one with the Sadducees in holding the duty of submission to Rome, and of supporting the Herods on the throne.

Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection.

Scribes are Jews who do writing and the interpretation of writings.

Pharisees are separatists who believe in a resurrection.