What Does Mark 12:29 Mean?

Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;

Mark 12:29(NASB)

Verse of the Day

Although the majority of the Jewish leadership were against the Lord Jesus and conspired how to get rid of Him, there were those from the ruling classes who were convicted by Christ's words and who sought the truth. Elsewhere we read of Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and others who were secret disciples of Christ. And here we discover a young man who was a teacher of the Law who was intrigued by the wisdom of Jesus.

This earnest young man would be conversant with all 613 of Israel's commandments which were given by God, through Moses... and he asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment: "And Jesus answered him, 'the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.'"

There appears to be no negative motive for this young man's direct question, but no doubt this would be one of the many, never-ending, legalistic debates within the Jewish Sanhedrin. Although the entire Law, which included the 10 moral commandments, equates to 'The Law of Moses' certain individual laws held greater prominence while others were less weighty.

This young man wanted to know which was the greatest commandment and Jesus answered His direct question by quoting the first part of the revered 'Shema': "Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is One Lord." And Jesus went on to explain that love for God and love for one's neighbour is the fulfilling of God's perfect Law.

But what does it mean to say that 'the Lord our God is One'? Well, the meaning of the verse is that God is unique. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the One and only, exclusive and unique God, and there are none like unto Him. The multiple gods of the Gentiles which are fashioned out of wood or stone are of no consequence for they are not gods. Similarly, other elements in creation like the sun or moon which are worshipped by pagans nations, are nothing but false gods.

The monotheistic doctrine that the Lord God was One Lord was exclusive to Israel... however, the doctrine of the Trinity which teaches that there is One God in three Persons is not contradictory - but rather complementary to this important, monotheistic teaching - for when the whole council of God is examined, the doctrine of the Trinity is beautifully embraced in both Old and New Testaments. From the creation in Genesis to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we see evidence of the biblical doctrine of the Triune Godhead.

We read in Genesis that it was ELOHIM (a plurality) Who created the heaven and the earth. Moses also wrote in Deuteronomy "Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God (ELOHIM) is One Lord." The God we serve is indeed One, indivisible and unique God Who is evidenced within the inerrant Scriptures to be One God in three Persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirt - the triune Godhead.

Isaiah clearly states of Yahweh: "I, am the LORD, and there is no Saviour besides Me." Paul reminds us that there is no other name, but the name of Jesus "whereby we must be saved," while in Revelation, John (quoting Isaiah) records that Jesus is the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending which is, and which was, and is to come, the Almighty God."

Every divine attribute and each eternal characteristic of the immortal, invisible, only wise God, is discovered in each member of the Triune Godhead as recorded in multiple places in both the Old and the New Testaments - for the Lord our God - ELOHIM, is One.

The Lord is indeed One. He is unique and there is no other God beside Him, but the unmistakable doctrine of the Trinity has its stamp of authority throughout the entire Word of God and the 'Shema' which the Lord Jesus referenced to the young Jewish ruler, only serves to endorse the monotheistic doctrine of the Triune Godhead - for the Lord our God is ONE Lord - unique from all the false gods of the pagan nations for He is the One Creator and the only wise Saviour Who is One in unity, One in purpose, One in thought, and word and deed.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are One, unique God in Three Persons. Thank You that You are the exclusive and only true God and that You stand without comparison above the false gods of the pagan, Gentile nations. Thank You that You alone are the Almighty God Who was and is and is to come. Thank You that You are the One and only Saviour of mankind and that there is no other way by which we must be saved other than by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ's finished work. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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