The Greatest Commandment It was supposed to be a gotcha moment. And it was! But not in the way the antagonizers had intended. In fact, just like all other attempts, this one also failed miserably. And the gotcha arrow intended to incriminate actually illuminated the utter impotency of His accusers and amplified the most important law of them all, the law of love - the greatest commandment, while convicting the audience of the true priority for living a life pleasing to God!
As was standard operating procedure in the gospels by His opposition, again the religious leaders in Israel are seeking to question Jesus and somehow trap Him into saying something wrong in their estimation.
Earlier in Mark 12, the Sadducees, who did not believe in the supernatural, including resurrection, ask the Lord about marriage in the resurrection. Kind of comical in a way, like the militant atheist getting upset about God, an entity they don’t believe exists!
After Jesus responds as only He does, perfectly, they persist in attempting to pin Him against the proverbial wall. Vanity! Vanity!
The next question posed provided the Lord ample opportunity to elucidate the foundation of living a life to that glorifies God and blesses people.
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31).
Matthew, recording the same event, where Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, adds this important encompassing statement uttered by the Lord, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40).
To the Jewish people in the first century, “the Law and the Prophets” was a reference to the entire Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures.
Also, of note, it’s fascinating that Jesus ties these two commands, to love God and others, into one, with the declaration, “There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The two are tied into one, a bond of love that not only spoke powerfully to the audience in that day, but speaks to God’s people powerfully and poignantly today!
God’s love, His “agape” - the unconditional, sacrificial, transforming love of God - is that which has been shared with us and that which we are commanded to share with others.
By God’s grace, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
For “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
And our response to God’s grace found in Christ Jesus ought to be love, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
We are commanded to love God and love others - for this is the greatest commandment. And this life-changing transforming power of God’s love expressed through His people, the Church, will glorify God, will edify the household of faith and will testify to those who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The Lord Jesus declared, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). He also said “love your enemies” in Matthew 5:42.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love.” Peter wrote, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
In our world today, where the love of many is growing cold (Matthew 24:12), may our love grow hotter in ever increasing measure, for His glory!
Therefore, let us demonstrate God’s love and proclaim God’s love in the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the end that many would be saved!
Do everything in love. - 1 Corinthians 16:14
February Bible Study --> The Gospel in Genesis
When we better understand the gospel, we’ll be equipped to more effectively articulate the gospel in our witness. This bible study focuses on the beginnings of the gospel as revealed in the book of Genesis. The foundation of the gospel message is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” The “scriptures” the Apostle Paul was referring to is the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. In the time of Christ, that was the bible! This study briefly introduces the good news of salvation in the book of Genesis. To download click here.
Messianic Minute Update
Since November, our 60-second Messianic Minute radio spots have been airing on 91.1FM, The Truth, a Christian radio station in Tusculum, TN. They’ve been broadcasting one per week, airing that spot about 8 different times per week.
We’ve also been collaborating with WHCB, 91.5, The Blessing, based out of Blountville, TN, who’ve been kind enough to record and produce the spots.
Now, WHCB wants to run the Messianic Minute spot daily each weekday, as soon as we have enough inventory! Practically speaking, this means instead of airing 4-5 spots per month, we’ll need enough content to broadcast 20-22 spots each month! In short, that’s 250+ spots!
Currently, we’ve produced 20 spots since the fall. Please pray for me as I, by God’s grace, begin an intensified writing and recording schedule in order to meet that wonderful ministry opportunity.
Other Ministry News
February 10th Bible Study @Calvary Chapel, Greeneville, TN - On Wednesday night, February 10th, at 6:30pm, I’ll be teaching a bible study on The Power & Purpose of Persecution in the life of the Church at Calvary Chapel, Greeneville. This study from the book of Acts has much application for God’s people today and will provide much instruction and inspiration. The teaching will be shared on our Facebook page as well as broadcast live and also archived on the Calvary Chapel Greeneville Facebook page.
February 19th, 7pm Facebook Teaching, Love Thy Neighbor - What does it look like to love thy neighbor evangelistically in 2021? That will be the focus of our equipping time at the Larry Stamm Ministries Facebook page later this month. To enhance the broadcast production value, we are now utilizing the iMovie application and posting on our Facebook page. January’s teaching was recorded on iMovie and, while it was sufficient, I have much work to do in order to embellish the communication via this application. Please pray for me as I utilize this new-for-me technology with all the editing and other production bells and whistles the application affords.
Evangelism Coaching and Support - A young man named Tyler is interested in evangelism to the Jewish people and wants to consult with me this month. Please pray the Lord would accomplish His purposes through our meeting. One of our constituents, Anna, lives in an assisted-living facility in Johnson City and has a burden for souls. She requested I bring her bibles and tracts to distribute, which I did last week. Please pray God would richly bless her testimony and many in her facility would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. If there’s any way I can support your witness, let us know. We’d be thrilled to help!
Praises & Prayer Requests
Praise God with us for the increased ministry reach afforded us through the Messianic Minute radio outreach. Also, thank God with us for both the Truth FM and WHCB radio stations in supporting the broadcast! Please pray the Holy Spirit would guide and bless my efforts as I begin spending more time writing - for His glory and the edification of His people.
Thank God with us for the testimony of Tyler and Anna, both of whom have a burden for souls! Please pray God’s richest blessing upon their witness and for much spiritual fruit to be born from their efforts in Christ.
Please pray the Lord would help my learning curve as I seek to learn how to better utilize the iMovie application in producing online teaching videos.
Thank God with us for the opportunity to teach in-person at Calvary Chapel on February 10th. Pray God’s Word would go forth with clarity and power, accomplishing His purposes in the lives of His people. Please also pray the Lord would open up more doors of opportunity for us to teach at other area churches.