“One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” (Mark 12:28)
Disputing, beloved reader, is not so much an argument as it is an intense conversation with each person putting forth their perspective with vim and enthusiasm. Jesus was disputing with the Sadducees who actually started the “disputing”.
“Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 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.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Verses 29 – 31)
It is the scribe inserting himself in the conversation which is the clue that it was not an argument but a debate. The Sadducees were trying to trip up Jesus and cause him to be embarrassed in front of the crowd – it did not work. And the scribe joining the conversation elevated it to a higher level of theological discourse, taking away the “sting” that the Sadducees were trying to introduce.
“Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 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,’ –this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Verses 32 – 33)
But this is where the situation changes – for the good, let me hasten to add. Jesus had up to this point been challenging the Sadducees understanding and theology, trying to point out where they had gone astray. The Sadducees were trying to challenge Jesus’ authority; this scribe then affirmed it. It was then that Jesus revealed that the Ultimate Authority was His, and that His Status as the Teacher is indisputable.
“When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.” (Verse 34)
We are all, beloved reader, students of the Divine. When our Lord and Teacher speaks, we should listen. And then keep those teachings in front of us so that we might . . . well, do as those teachings tell! And come ever closer to the Kingdom of God! Shalom & Selah!