Where have I heard 'love God' and 'love neighbor' before?

Did you know…


. . .that in the interaction with the legal scholar from this week's gospel story Jesus is actually referencing two different parts of Hebrew Scripture. The lawyer asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus says, "Love the lord your God with all of your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength; and your neighbor as yourself. But this teaching is actually a mash up of two different commands from two different books of the bible. The first is from Deuteronomy 6:


Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


And the second is from one book of the bible earlier, in Leviticus 19:


Leviticus 19:17-18

You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.


The first reference is to Deuteronomy 6:4 which is traditionally known as the Shema, the Hebrew word for hear or listen, which is a prayer central to the Jewish tradition. Jesus would have been taught this prayer at a very young age and said it regularly. He and the legal scholar would have been very familiar with this prayer. The second is from Leviticus 19 and comes at the end of a long section of commandments focused on treating people both within your community and outside your community justly. These commandments make it clear that the Hebrew people were not just called to take care of one another, but to care for and deal justly with those from outside their community.


Why do you think it was important for Jesus, in conversation with this legal scholar, standing in the land of the Samaritans, to call people back to these two commandments and these two parts of scripture? What did he want them to remember about their call as people of faith?

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