What does Mark 12:29 mean?
ESV: Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
NIV: The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
NASB: Jesus answered, 'The foremost is, ‘HEAR, ISRAEL! THE Lord IS OUR God, THE Lord IS ONE;
CSB: Jesus answered, "The most important is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
NLT: Jesus replied, 'The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.
KJV: And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
Verse Commentary:
A scribe has asked Jesus what the "most important" or foundational commandment is (Mark 12:28). The Mosaic law has 613 commands, and the scribes added many others in the Oral Law. While all the written laws are to be obeyed, they each have a certain priority in the minds of the religious leaders. Jesus' response is: know God, love God (Mark 12:30), love others (Mark 12:31). These commandments cover all of God's requirements (Romans 13:8).

In this verse and Mark 12:30, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4–5 which is the beginning of the Shema prayer. Shema is from the Hebrew word for "hear," which is the first word of the saying. Devout Jews pray the Shema in the morning and night as a way of fulfilling Deuteronomy 6:7: "…talk of [the laws]…when you lie down, and when you rise."

Jesus only quotes the part about loving God. The prayer continues by convicting the people to remember the Law and teach it to their children (Deuteronomy 6:4–9). The full traditional prayer adds that God will bless their obedience (Deuteronomy 11:13–29) and that the Jews need to sew tassels for their cloaks as reminders to follow the Law (Numbers 15:37–41).

After quoting that we are to love God, Jesus continues that we are to love others (Mark 12:31). But it's interesting to note that the "greatest commandment" doesn't start with loving God and others, but with "hear." The first principle we need to obey is to hear and understand and accept that the Lord is our God and the Lord is one. The rest of the Mosaic law—in fact, all of Scripture—means nothing without the understanding of who God is.
Verse Context:
Mark 12:28–34 occurs during the last week before the crucifixion. Jesus spends time in the temple courtyard, teaching the people and debating Jewish religious and civil leaders. Intrigued by how Jesus proves the resurrection of the dead to a group of Sadducees (Mark 12:18–26), a scribe of the Pharisees (Matthew 22:34–35) asks Jesus about the greatest commandment in the Mosaic law. The central idea of Jesus' answer is to love God and love others. But He starts at the beginning of the Shema prayer: acknowledge God is your God and He is one. This story is also in Matthew 22:34–40.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains lessons taught by Jesus in various circumstances. He explains the eventual destruction of traditional Judaism, the relationship between secular and sacred obligations, the nature of the resurrection, and the most important of God's commandments. Jesus also expounds on Messianic statements in the Old Testament. Jesus also condemns the glory-seeking shallowness of the scribes, and extolls the virtues of sincere, faith-based giving.
Chapter Context:
Days before, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, hailed as a hero by the people (Mark 11:1–11). While teaching in the temple courtyard, Jesus shows superior understanding of Scripture over the chief priests, scribes, and elders (Mark 12:27–33), the Pharisees and Herodians (Mark 12:13), the Sadducees (Mark 12:18), and the scribes again (Mark 12:35, 38). Sadly, even in the instance where a scribe does understand Scripture, that is no guarantee he will follow it to its logical conclusion: Jesus (Mark 12:28–34). In contrast, a humble widow exemplifies the faithfulness and piety the leaders lack (Mark 12:41–44). Jesus leaves the temple for the last time to teach the disciples on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13). In Mark 14, He prepares for the crucifixion.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 3/1/2024 10:18:11 PM
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