Posted on September 17, 2014
#71: The Rest of the Story
Paul Harvey, the well-loved radio personality, became famous for his broadcasts called “The Rest of the Story.” In each episode Harvey told an engaging story, withholding a key piece of information (like the person’s name or the story’s location) till the end. The resolution—served up with “And now, you know the rest of the story”— almost always came as a surprise, and people loved these mini-mysteries.
Today’s passage is one that makes me long to know the rest of the story. Pick up your Bible and breathe a prayer for insight.
Read Mark 12:28-34. (A parallel passage in Matthew 22:34-40 gives a bit different slant to the same account.)
In the crowds listening to Jesus’ interaction with the Sadducees stood a man of importance. Matthew suggests that this man was a Pharisee making his own attempt to test Jesus, while Mark casts him in a more favorable light. (We know there were those among the priests and teachers of the law who came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Nicodemus was one—see John 3:3:1-2, 7:50-52, 19:38-40. There were others as well—see John 12:42 and Acts 6:7—though some had trouble letting go of their old legalistic ways—see Acts 15:5ff).
This man was fascinated with the wise answers Jesus gave His adversaries. So he came with a question of his own. “Which of all the commandments is the most important?”
Jesus replied with quotes from the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18): “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’s no commandment greater than these.”
The man’s response in verses 32-33 showed the open state of his heart, which leaves me hungry for “the rest of the story.” If he was, as Jesus said, not far from the kingdom of God, did he end up a Christian? What was his name? Do we read of him later, perhaps as a leader in the Jerusalem church? Will we meet him in heaven?
He definitely understood the power of Jesus’ answer. Love God, love each other. Simple, direct, yet enormously challenging. If each of us could make those five words the motto of our lives, how much would it change the rest of the story in our relationships, our churches, and our witness in the world? How many of the problems in our relationships, our churches, and our witness in the world stem from satan’s perversion of that motto: love yourself?
The rest of your story doesn’t have to be the same as it has been to this point. If you want a stronger marriage, stronger family relationships, stronger friendships, a stronger church family—if you want every relationship in your life to be better—start with Jesus’ wise choice of commands. Love God and love each other.
Why do you think Jesus named these two commands as the most important? How did He model these commandments? Spend some time this week praying over what it is to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength—and what it means to love others as you love yourself. Try to frame your conclusions in practical terms, and decide what aspect of love you need most to grow in.
© Diane McLoud 2014