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MARK 12:28-31

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 8, 2000

Mark 12: 28-31: One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He - Jesus - had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 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.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

When we were talking about today’s service - _____’s family asked me to read these verses. These verses are really appropriate this morning because they clarify what’s important in life - and what was important in _____’s life. The Jewish religious leaders had come up with hundreds of laws and regulations - covering every conceivable experience and event in life - rules and regulations that they said one needed to live by in order to do the one thing that was most important in life - to obey God. But for generations they had debated which - out of all of these laws - which one was the most important to keep - do this one and you’ll keep all of the others - you’ll live in obedience to God.

Mark 12 - the passage we read - records the day that these religious leaders asked Jesus the impossible question: What is the most important thing to do in life? And Jesus gives them the answer. Jesus tells them: Love God with everything you are. Then He gives them the second most important thing we need to do: Love everyone else like you love yourself.

Church is important to _____ - loving and serving God. He and _____ have been here - consistently - longer than anyone else. He served this congregation. For years he conducted the choir. If you look in the Preface of our hymnal - you’ll find listed first among the members of the Hymnal Committee - _____ __________.

The Preface says this: “To the people of our churches in North America, we present the fruit of our labor of love, hoping that all who use this hymnal will magnify the Lord and sing praises to His name.” Amen, _____. That’s what’s important in life - to magnify the Lord - to love God with everything we are.

Family is important to _____ - loving others as we love ourselves. Every time I talked with _____ he asked about our family. _____ has been reminding me that there’s a loquat tree in their back yard that was given to them by my grandfather - our families go way back. _____ always asked, “How’s your family?”

Imagine being married 64 years - to the same woman! _____ is an example to us of a husband - a father - a grandfather - and a great-grandfather. Loving others with the same fervency we love ourselves.

The problem is that its impossible to love God with everything we are - impossible to express God’s unselfish love to others. As hard as we might try and as much as we might do - we simply fall short of doing what is most important in life - obeying what God asks us to do.

Its hard for all of us - to trust God - and not rely on ourselves. The Apostle Peter - confronted with death - his faith in Jesus tested - 3 times denied that he knew Jesus - he lied to get out of a threatening situation. Rather than trusting God he trusted in his own cleverness and ability.

There is no way - trusting in our own sufficiency - that any of us could ever hope to live as God desires for us to live. By our power alone its impossible.

_____ _________ had come to that moment in his life when he realized that he couldn’t do it on his own - as much as he had served his church - as much as he loved his family - he couldn’t live up to God’s expectations. _____ surrendered to Jesus Christ as his Savior. God - through Jesus - is the only one who can cause us to love Him and to truly love others.

The Apostle Paul comments on how we live our lives and writes in Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (3:23) We’ve all failed to live as God has called us to live. We live in sin - disobedience to what God has commanded us to do.

Paul writes, “The wages of sin - what we earn because of our sin - is death - eternal separation from God - but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (6:23)

That’s the choice that _____ made in life - to accept the gift of God - God’s forgiveness of _____’s sin - and God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Death forces us to look at life - and to ask ourselves about how we’ve lived our lives - the choices we’ve made - and to question if we’re ready for what comes next.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies....Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26)

_____ believed - and he lives! He’s with God now - forever. In Revelation 21 - God tells us that _____ is with Him - in the place of no death - no pain - no crying - no mourning.