A Friend in the Enemy’s Camp
The right, the left, liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, black lives matter, blue lives matter —the intensity of the tensions between ever-increasing interest groups rivets our attention to the 24-hour news cycle, and herd us into our huddles of like-minded folks. Sitting in our huddle, we look out and lump everyone else not in our group as mortal enemies. But if we let Jesus control our inner attitudes, he won’t allow us to isolate ourselves. He’ll challenge us to make connections even with our so-called enemies. Maybe we will discover that some of them are not so far out as we might think.
During the last week in Jerusalem Jesus did face real enemies. And one of these opposition groups was the legal experts on the Jewish Law and Tradition. Up to this point in the Gospel of Mark, these scribes have been key members in the group seeking to take Jesus out. He threatened their nationalism and their sacred place of worship; therefore, they concluded he should be killed. As a group they hated Jesus, but in today’s episode Mark shows us one of them who was not an enemy. He had openness and honesty. And this lawyer ended up having a genuine truth-seeking interaction with the Savior.
“Now one of the religious legal experts approached and heard the back and forth debates going on between Jesus and the different parties seeking to bring him down. He observed that Jesus answered his opponents well, so he asked him a question, ‘Of all the commandments what is the most important?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important one is this—Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There are no commandments greater than these.’
‘Well said, Teacher!’ the scribe replied, ‘You’re right in saying that God is one and there is no other. And to love God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself –these are more important than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’
When Jesus saw that he answered insightfully, he said to him, ‘You’re not far from the Kingdom of God.’ And no one else dared ask him any more questions.” Mark 12:28-34
Though part of an opposition group, this scribe listened to Jesus as he responded skillfully to the different groups hurling verbal spears to bring him down and decided to ask Jesus a genuine question—a question that went to the heart of the Jewish debates about the Law. If I’m going to follow Jesus then I need to allow his Spirit to move me to be alert for honesty, truthfulness, and a hunger for truth even in a person in a group that opposes my in-group. In the early chapters of Acts we read that many among the leaders in Jerusalem believed in Jesus after his death and resurrection. Maybe this scribe became one of these Jerusalem Jewish believers.
LORD, thanks that the new life you’ve given us as a gift naturally has a passion to fulfill the greatest commandment to love you above everything else and to express this in concrete actions of love for others.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!