What does Mark 12:32 mean?The Jewish religious and civil leaders have spent several days trying to trap Jesus into doing something they can use to destroy Him (Mark 12:12). Their latest salvo is to send a scribe, an expert in the Law, to ask Jesus what the foremost of the Mosaic laws is. Jesus gives a three-part response: to know God, love God, and love others. The scribe rightfully starts where Jesus does: know and understand that God the Master is one. The addition that "there is no other besides him" is certainly consistent with the affirmation of God's oneness and comes from Deuteronomy 4:35.
Parallelism is a type of poetry that repeats ideas instead of sounds, and it is very popular in Jewish literature. The parallelism in Hosea 6:6 shows how this first line of the Shema fits with the call to love God and others: "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice | The knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."
To know God, to understand and accept and live out of the knowledge that He is God and there is no other, is the foundation for love.
In most of Jesus' altercations with the Pharisees and scribes, the arguments are more personal. They especially turn on how the two groups added to Mosaic law in ways God does not intend, and which the people find burdensome (Matthew 23:4). The result of these altercations is usually that the scribes and Pharisees want to destroy Jesus (Mark 3:6; 11:18). In this more philosophical debate, the scribe publicly acknowledges Jesus' wise answer. He even respectfully calls Jesus a "teacher."