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A teacher of the law asked Jesus an important question. In essence, he asks, “There are a lot of commandments in the Scripture. If I have to give a student the most basic of instruction, which of the commandments is the most vital?”
The response from Jesus is especially important for two reasons:
- Which commandments He listed
- The relatively few words He spoke
Check out His short reply—
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 is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:29-31)
In this sermon from Jesus, He speaks a total of 57 words. Notice the breakdown of the words He spoke:
- Words from Scripture: 40 words
- His own words: 17 words
I wonder how many times we get this reversed? How many times do we share a short passage from the Bible and then use a whole bunch of our own words to try to explain the Scripture? Do we think the Holy Spirit needs our help to illuminate the inspired Word?
Solomon warned twice of the dangers of “many words” (Ecclesiastes 5:3, 7), and Jesus said that if we think a lot of words spoken in prayer makes that prayer effective, we are really just babbling (Matthew 6:7).
The teacher of the law is astounded at this sermon Jesus delivered. He speaks almost as many words as Jesus (52 words), but nearly all of his words are simply repeating what Jesus had said. Jesus said this man’s synopsis of His message was “wise” and indicated that he was “not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:32-34).
When we are asked questions about the Bible, let’s let the Bible do most of the talking. Let’s be careful that our attitude is not one of trying to “help” the Holy Spirit, but let’s rely on the Holy Spirit to help us know what Scripture to quote, what limited commentary to share, and when to be silent to allow the Word to do its irresistible work.
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