Updated: Sep 29, 2021
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One of the scribes came near and heard the Sadducees disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 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.” 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.” 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.
This is the Gospel reading that will be read aloud by a priest on the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 26], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. This will follow one of two sets of Old Testament and Psalm pairings, either Track 1 or Track 2. Depending on the predetermined path for an individual church during Year B, Track 1 will present a reading from Ruth, which says, “Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that Yahweh had considered his people and given them food.” That will be paired with Psalm 146, which sings, “Happy are they who have se-el of Jacob for their help! whose hope is in Yahweh elohaw.” Track 2 will offer a reading from Deuteronomy 6, where Moses spoke as Yahweh, saying, “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh ehohenu, Yahweh alone.” That will be accompanied by Psalm 119, which sings: “Then I should not be put to shame, when I regard all your commandments.” One of those two will precede a reading from Hebrews, where Paul wrote, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!”
I wrote in-depth about this reading selection the last time it came up in the lectionary cycle (2018). I posted my observations at that time on my website. That insight is still relevant today; so, there is no need for me to repeat what I wrote three years ago. I recommend all readers click this link and read what I wrote then, before coming back to read what I will now add. I will do more towards showing how the others readings set aside for the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost enhance this lesson; but I will now add for the first time insight that has just come to me recently.
The first thing I want to point out from this reading is it is written in Greek. Mark is the author of Peter’s story – his first-hand account of Jesus’ ministry that he witnessed, divinely recalled – and Mark wrote the Gospel bearing his name in Greek. Most likely, Peter spoke to Mark in Aramaic; and, most likely the scribes and Sadducees spoke to Jesus in Aramaic, in which same language he responded to them. This means that the Greek that is translated into English, from which the NRSV translation is read aloud by a priest [from a large book written in English], is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth of what Jesus actually said.
To see Mark write [transliterated], “Akoue Israēl : Kyrios ho Theos hēmōn , Kyrios heis estin ,” [et al] and think that was what Jesus said, when the Hebrew written is [transliterated], “šə·ma‘ yiś·rā·’êl : Yah-weh ’ĕ·lō·hê·nū Yah-weh ’e·ḥāḏ” [et al] is wrong. Jesus did not refer to the name ordered written by Moses in Deuteronomy – “Yah-weh [or “יְהוָ֥ה”] – as “Kyrios” [or “Κύριος”]. Jesus would have quoted the Hebrew as written, which the scribe [a university professor equivalent in Hebrew] would also have had down to acute memory. In other words, the Greek of Mark was intended to be read by English-speaking Christians [two thousand years later] as “Hear Israel : The Lord our God , the Lord is one” [et al], when Jesus should be realized to have said, “hear Israel ; Yahweh of whom we are gods , Yahweh alone” [et al].
The evidence of this is where Jesus regularly referred to Yahweh as “the Father” [“Patros”] and not “Kyrios.” What needs to be found from the Greek that has Jesus speaking is this: the truth is not found by thinking he spoke in Greek. By Yahweh leading all the Gospel writers to write their stories of Jesus in a language Jesus did not regularly speak, with enough references to things he said in Aramaic being enough to say, “He spoke in Aramaic,” the point is to hide the truth under words of paraphrase. To believe in paraphrases is only half-way towards finding the truth. To find the other half means reaching true faith; and, Yahweh had the Gospels written in Greek to see who is willing to search for the truth that lies underneath.
It is from that perspective that it becomes imperative that one realize Jesus quoted the Hebrew of Deuteronomy, as well as the Hebrew from Leviticus 19:18, when he answered the question posed to him by the scribes. The question (translated literally from the Greek) is: “Which is law most important of the whole?” That becomes a hidden statement that there are 613 commandments listed by Moses, which made it be a trick question that sought to have Jesus say one was more important than all the others, when all are equally important. When Jesus said one was foremost, with another subsequent to the foremost law and no others greater than those two, he gave the right answer; and, he did it without having to draw in the dirt or pull out his list of Mosaic laws. That speed of answer impressed the brainiac that was one of the scribes.
For Jesus to quote from Deuteronomy, which is (by definition) the “second law,” or “repeated law,” he was not listing one of those most commonly memorized by Christians, from the “Ten Commandments.” Jews today laugh at this Christian view, knowing there are 613, which is about six hundred three more laws than Christians learn or remember. Still, when Moses told the Israelites to “hear Israel,” that meant they needed to hear their soul’s new name was “Israel,” meaning “One Who Retains God,” through marriage that joined each soul to Yahweh. That marriage was and could only be through love. Therefore, the foremost of all the commandments was one that repeated, “If your soul is not in this because of total love, then there are no agreements that will be kept.”
In the difference between how the Greek states “the Lord our God,” it is easy to get lost in how that repeats “Lord” as “God.” That repetition is not what Moses stated with his use of “elohim,” where the plural intent of “gods” does not elevate into Gods or God. It is the repetition of Yahweh as the One God to whom each Israelite soul must be divinely married, so all of those "elohim” of Yahweh are extension of Yahweh on earth. Had Moses known Jesus of Nazareth, he might have changed what he said to be “Yahweh Jesuses,” instead of “Yahweh elohim.” That is because “the Lord our God” has the same meaning, such that Jesus knew Yahweh was his Father, to whom the soul of Jesus submitted totally, out of complete love.
This means that when Jesus repeated Moses in saying [here it is capitalized in Greek], “Hear Israel,” such that each word took upon itself a divine level of meaning, the scribe did indeed listen and understand the truth said in “Hear Israel.” The divinity of those two words say one must “Hear” the voice of Yahweh speaking; and, when that voice cries out “Israel,” that is not calling out the name of a nation of people who squandered their land by allowing wicked rulers over them, who subsequently had been scattered around the globe, including being bound as slaves to oppressors. The name “Israel” meant to be “One Who Retains Yahweh,” as His wife, one of His “elohim,” where each is an “el” of Yahweh - a Lord's god. At least one scribe “Heard Israel” and realized the truth of that name. That scribe then commenced to tell Jesus what Paul would later write from his prison cell in Rome – about the uselessness of animal sacrifices.
It is here that I have been allowed to see the truth that has been hidden deeply in Jesus quoting from Leviticus 19:18, when he said, “you shall love this neighbor of you as yourself.” In reality, the same words written in Greek can translate as, “you shall love this near of you as long as of yourself.” In both translations, “yourself” must be seen as a statement of “your soul,” where a “self” is a “soul.” Thus, when “plēsion” is not translated as “neighbor” but as a viable “near” or “nearby,” then what Jesus said is this: “you shall love Yahweh who is of you in marriage for as long as He is with your soul.” Nothing is said about anyone else.
In the similar version of this encounter, as told by Luke [the Gospel writer of Mother Mary’s story of Jesus], the scribe asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” One can see now that such a question would be rooted in the semantics of the Hebrew word [transliterated] “lə·rê·‘ă·ḵā,” from “rea,” where “your neighbor” can actually translate as “your companion” or “your fellow.” The scribe’s question is then not about who lives next door to him, but how Jesus can quickly know the truth of a word he (the scribe) had struggled to comprehend all the years of his scholastic prominence. He was asking Jesus to explain who his “companion” was.
That led Jesus to give a parable in answer, rather than say, “Well take me to your house and I will point your neighbors out to you.” The parable was that of the “Good Samaritan,” where the story is seeped with metaphor that calls one to see the man beaten, robbed and left for half dead” as one’s relationship with Yahweh – as the Covenant. The two who were leaders of the Temple of Jerusalem both walked by the torn and tattered agreement with Yahweh, not wanting to have anything to do with it or Him. The one who found the Covenant in distress, as a cheated on Yahweh, took steps to restore that contract. The Samaritan [seen as worst than a Gentile by the Jews] picked up the agreement and nurtured a relationship with Yahweh to health. It was the Samaritan who loved Yahweh with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength, and who spared no expense in making sure the Covenant between his soul and Yahweh was in good standing. Thus, the soul of the Samaritan loved the agreement with Yahweh until the two were married as One, and his soul loved Yahweh as his own soul’s Lord.
After Jesus told that parable, he asked the man which of the three was a “neighbor” [a “plēsion”], to which the man answered, “The one who showed compassion to him.” This says “compassion” [from “eleos,” meaning “covenant-love”] is not to some external entity, but to the inner relationship that a soul has to the Spirit that is “nearby.” The same meaning must be read into this reading from Mark 12.
When Jesus heard the response by the scribe, he was pleased that the soul of this intellectual was being led by the Spirit, meaning his soul and Yahweh were ‘engaged, to be married.’ By Jesus sensing that, he told him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Here, one needs to realize “not far” [from “Ou makran,” where the capitalized “Ou” or “Not” takes on a divine level of meaning, where “Not far” means “Near Yahweh”] says all the scribe needed to do to reach the kingdom of God was to love Yahweh as his own soul.
When this deeper meaning has been exposed, this love of Yahweh has to be seen as the metaphor of the story told in Ruth. The famine that drove Naomi and her husband and two sons into Moab becomes the same famine that had Pharisees trying to trick Jesus with questions about paying taxes to Caesar and whether the resurrection was real or not. Moab becomes the fertile ground of Christianity, with Israel and Judah being void of any spiritual food. Still, Christianity would kill off the husband of Naomi [someone like Moses, with the spirit-soul of Jesus] and her two sons [the Eastern and Western Church as any religions of truth], leaving Naomi with two daughters-in-law and only her Covenant to Yahweh. She freed the wives of her dead sons to fend for themselves and find their own gods to marry their souls to [Gentiles as they had been]; but Ruth clung to Naomi and refused to leave. The love of Ruth for Naomi becomes the love said by Jesus to be the foremost Law. We love our neighbors as ourselves when we cling to the inner Yahweh and not run to the closest sin to feed on.
Because the Deuteronomy reading is what Jesus quoted, it becomes important to see how the scribe also referred to the sacrifices of animals, as did Paul in Hebrews. When Paul wrote of the high priest entering the tabernacle, this must be seen as a reference to two souls within one body of flesh. This is one’s “neighbor,” as Ruth knew there was no other “neighbor” beyond the one who was “near” and loved. Jesus’ soul becomes the “high priest” sent by Yahweh, after marriage, which become the one “near” that must be loved as one’s own soul. This becomes the truth of being reborn as Jesus. When Paul referred to the “Christ” on two occasions in the reading selection, it is the presence of Jesus within that makes one also become an Anointed one of Yahweh. That Anointment comes from a most Spiritual marriage with one’s soul. Therefore, to be assured the kingdom of God, one then must be married to Yahweh in Spirit and be reborn as His Son, a new Christ walking the face of the earth.
Psalm 119 then praises this presence, singing, “Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of Yahweh!” Psalm 146 then adds, “Hallelujah! Praise Yahweh, O my soul! I will praise Yahweh as long as I live; I will sing praises to lelohay while I have my being.” In that, “Hallelujah” means “Praise Yahweh!” This is praise that states total love by a soul for Yahweh. It says Yahweh is one with one’s being, which is the “companion” to whom all love is shown, as the Spirit that has become one’s soul expression. This love grants one access to the kingdom of God, as a wife (a soul) in good standing.
As the Gospel reading to be read aloud on the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson here is to receive the Spirit and love it with all one’s soul. In these modern times when filthy spirited, berobed men and women are calling themselves priests and pastors, spewing crap that says a “neighbor” is anyone or anything in the world that breathes air, where nothing is relative to the way one’s soul lives – and Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, and Commie Reds are all alike in their rejection of Yahweh’s Spirit with their souls in marriage – none of them realize what I have now been shown.
The meaning of “love your neighbor as yourself” can only be accomplished when one’s soul has courted Yahweh to the altar and agreed fully with His Covenant as one’s marriage vows [all 613 of the agreements] AND that marriage has given rise to a new soul alongside one’s own soul – baby Jesus reborn – to be one’s true “neighbor, companion, nearby soul.” When the world comes to this realization, it will either admit to being those who pass by the beaten, robbed, and left for half-dead Covenant with Yahweh, nowhere close to the kingdom of God; or, some will realize they are Saints and ministry to Yahweh means self-sacrifice, in order to maintain the Covenant, out of true and total love.