Jesus wasn’t very good at math.
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” The most important one,” answered Jesus, “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 is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
So, the guy asks for one law, and Jesus gives him two. Sometimes I don’t understand how the guy could let Jesus get away with giving him these laws (plural) when he asked for the most important (singular) one. I think I probably would have spoken up if I were there:
“Jesus, I just asked what’s the most important thing to God. Not what the most important two things are. Help me out here.”
“I told you, that is the most important thing. Love God and love people.”
“But, isn’t loving God more important? By the way, why are you speaking with a British accent?”
“It doesn’t work that way, and I only talk that way when I’m acting in movies. Sometimes I don’t even blink.”
“Ok, fine. But, if you had to choose what’s more important, which one would it be?”
I guess there’s bound to be some communication problems when a North American Christian living in the 21st century interacts with a 1st century Middle Eastern man. I think much differently. Why do we continually take the words and deeds of Jesus and put them in the context of our affluent and individualistic lives?
Jesus was completely incapable of separating the two commandments, yet we continue to elevate one above the other. I wonder why we think we have to separate them, and am still trying to understand exactly what happens (to our relationship with God and other people) when we do.
Lately, I’ve been trying to understand why we think the way we think, and how the way we as North American Christians have been taught to think affects our understanding of God and our outward expressions of our belief in Him. Quite a complex sentence and subject, I know, but just think about it!
(the stoic Jesus pictured above is from the movie Jesus of Nazareth. Watch it sometime and count how many times Jesus blinks.)