My wife gave birth to a son who just doesn’t understand gifts. My wife and I would go out when he was a little guy to buy what we thought was the perfect gift. He would tear open the gift, and he’d end up playing with the box. It drove us crazy. If you’re one of God’s children, you have been given the most awesome gift that could ever be given. It’s a gift of such grandeur that it’s hard to wrap human vocabulary around it and explain it. It’s beautiful from every vista. It’s the gift that every human being needs. It’s a gift that in all of your work and all your effort and all your achievements you couldn’t have ever earned; you could have never deserved; you could have never achieved. It is absolutely without question the gift of gifts. It’s the gift of grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, but I am deeply persuaded in the face of this gift, there are many Christians who are content to play with the box.
Let’s get the background of this passage. The question—"what is the greatest commandment?"—reflects the fact that the scribes had identified 613 separate commandments, 365 of which were negative and 248 of which were positive. They divided them further between the more important and less important.
Jesus teaches that the whole duty of man, the whole moral, spiritual law, can be summed up in one word: love (1 Cor. 13). This love must first be directed toward God. This is a summary of Deut. 6:4. In the original Hebrew, the first letter of the quotation is “Shema,” meaning “Hear”. Today the ancient custom of beginning the synagogue service with the recitation of the “Shema” is still being observed.
We want to be careful not to over analyze the different aspects of Jesus' response. What is meant in all this is that man should love God with all the “faculties” which God has endowed him with. A man must use all these faculties to the full—“all… all… all” etc. The point is this: we should not respond to God’s wholehearted love half-heartedly. When God loves, He loves the world, and when God gives, He gives his son.
Surely, our response to such love should be no less. However, this love is not only directed toward God, but also man (Lev. 19:18). This is the second quotation. Remember, love includes all the virtues described in 1 Cor. 13.
Jesus’ command to love does several things. First, it summarizes the Ten Commandments. The first part of Jesus’ answer summarizes the first four commandments, which have to do with our love for God (Ex. 20:2-11). The second part of Jesus’ answer summarizes the final six, which have to do with our love for humankind (Ex. 2:12-17).
Second, it shows us that love cannot be divided. Jesus could not separate the command to love God from the command to love people.
Third, it provides us with a standard by which we are to love. Jesus said, love “as yourself.”
We also see love being contrasted in Mark chapter 12. In the story of the widow’s offering, a contrast is drawn between wealthy scribes and the impoverished widow. The scribes claimed they loved God, but were hypocritical, selfish, and greedy. The widow, on the other hand, proved her love for God willingly, sacrificially, and gratefully.
Love is also commended in this passage. The widow gave out of her poverty. The two very small coins were two lepta. The lepton was the smallest coin in circulation in Palestine and was 1/64 of a denarius, a day's wages for a common laborer. Less than a penny in our day.
Ultimately the greatest of display of giving is seen in Christ. Jesus gave His life. He gave everything. Surely, our response to such love should be no less: loving with a sound.
To love with a sound means to love God with all that you are and all that you have, don’t hold back. What area are you holding back in? Is it your financial obligation to the kingdom? Are you holding back in your marriage? Maybe you need to say “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you”. Let me encourage you to love in this way, to love with a sound.