Week 16 Sunday


Which is the Greatest?

Today’s scripture selection: Mark 11-12

Key Verses: Mark 12:28b-30


     Time was running short.  Jesus was pressing on toward his destiny – and his enemies were gathering.

     It was time to get down to basics.  There would be no room for doubt or misunderstanding.  Jesus would make things crystal clear.  So clear that there were only two choices – to follow or reject Him.

     So, when asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus answered clearly: “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.’”

     That, by itself, was nothing controversial.  Jesus’ people already understood this was the “greatest” commandment – and the orthodox believers recited it regularly.

     What was controversial – what would prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back – was that Jesus seemed to be claiming that He was God himself.  That He – this carpenter’s son turned itinerant preacher and healer – this bold one who dared to forgive people’s sins – He – claimed the title of the “Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

     What nerve!  What blasphemy!

     And so, they had to choose.  Whether to believe he was a madman – a religious fanatic – a blasphemer – or the Son of God.

     Two thousand years later, the choice is the same: to accept Him and His claims – all of them – or reject them.  There just isn’t any middle ground.  Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?  For the Christian – that means loving Christ that way.  Anything less is not an option.  Is there?


Prayer: Lord, I give you my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Use me as you will – to your glory.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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