Shema

Day 66

Prayer for the day

Let your loving-kindness be my comfort, as you have promised to your servant. Let your compassion come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight.

Scripture for the day

Deuteronomy 4-6, Mark 11:1-18

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

This short passage from the book of Deuteronomy is called the Shema, owing to “shema” being the first word of the sentence in Hebrew. If any verse is a life verse, the Shema is it. The Shema is central to the Jewish religion as well as to the teachings of Jesus. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replies with the Shema.

This short mantra, this quick and pithy phrase, forms the basis for discipleship in the life of the Christian. It was designed by Moses to be something that was a tool for memory, something that reminded the Israelites where they had come from and where they were going, and most of all, who had brought them there.

The Shema speaks of the Lord, YHWH, being one, and being one worthy of our entire devotion.

In the book of Mark, Jesus is hailed as the King, the son of David, the one who comes in YHWH’s name. The one who comes in the name of YHWH is the one who bears YHWH’s goodness to the people. He is the one who shows them the goodness and the character of God. Little do the people know that they’re actually witnessing the one person who can truly claim to fully and perfectly reflect the character of this YHWH God, because he is, in fact, this YHWH God.

Jesus shone as an example to the people around him, and to us, of the kind of person who could love YHWH God with all his heart, and all his soul, and all his mind, and all his strength. Jesus was the living embodiment of the Shema. No longer did people have to bind the law to their forehead or their hands or their doorposts…they could point to the man who was the everlasting God of the universe. In him were the law and prophets fulfilled. In Jesus was the Shema truly accomplished.

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