28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. 35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ 37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly. 38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” 41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
1. Do you remember that the scribes were the Bible scholars of their day?
2. Having watched how adroitly the Lord Jesus had handled the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees, do you think the scribe was out to trap Jesus? Or was he genuinely curious?
3. The Shema (literally”Hear”) in v. 29 and recorded in Deuteronomy 6 was the key Jewish creed. It was placed in little ornamental scrolls on the doorposts of Jewish homes and placed into little boxes tied onto the forehead and forearms of devout Jewish men at prayer time. Every Jew understood this was the heart of their faith. Likewise, Jesus’ quoting of Leviticus 19 was a masterful summary of the commandments regarding one’s neighbor. Do you think the scribe was surprised that Jesus was evaluating him, too?
4. If Jesus had been only interested in winning debates and scoring points, would He have continued to stay in the Temple to teach?
5. Do you understand that when folks question Jesus, He is evaluating them? Good news?
6. What does Jesus’ pointing to the poor widow’s giving add to today’s reading? Think!
Come, Holy Spirit, and keep me from smugly assigning the roles of Jesus’ opponents to those who are my own adversaries. Rather show me how I, at times, have embodied or imitated each of Jesus’ interrogators – even this past week or today. Grant me grace this day to show true repentance for my arrogance by loving you, O God, with a passionate love and to give you thanks by my care-full service to my neighbors. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Place 34 pennies, nickels, or dimes in a large bowl with the intent to provide farm animals to help the global poor support their families.
Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Wilmington, North Carolina
The Daily Readings are from English Standard Version,