Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ – The Message
Do you love God with all of your passion?
Do you love God with all your intelligence?
As well as teaching those with ‘ears to hear’ in both the Synagogues and in open air gatherings, Jesus was subjected to testing by different groups of the Jewish authorities.
A Rabi being questioned was a natural part of religious teaching and discourse in Judaism.
Jesus was being subjected to something much more rigorous and insidious. They were trying to find ways to catch him out and denounce him as a heretic.
They ignored the effect of his teaching and the miracles taking place.
In this verse, the Sadducees had first tried to catch him out and failed. Now the Pharisees stepped up and sent in an expert in Jewish religious law..
Jesus is asked which of the Commandments is the greatest. This is a fairly simple trick question. All Law and Commandments are from God, so they are, therefore, all equally important.
But remember this was the same Jesus who was in the Temple at the age of twelve debating with the teachers there.
Jesus reminds them of the Shema – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. This was a kind of creed or statement of faith for the Jewish people.
God commanded the people to always have this passage on their minds, to talk about it, to contemplate it, to recite it when they rose in the morning and before they lay down in the evening.
The next verse in the Shema is the one Jesus quotes here, Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’
I love this Message version of the the verse.
If we were asked if we loved God then we would nod our heads and speak out in the affirmative.
Jesus emphasises something which was lacking in those questioning him, but was integral to their lives, temporal and spiritual.
They would all have nodded in agreement that they loved God with all of their passion – indeed, they would claim that trying to proclaim Jesus as a fake was part of their passion for God.
(We see this Passion in Paul before Jesus appears to him on the Damascus road in Acts, and then we read of his passion for God and the ‘Way’ all through his letters in the New Testament.)
They would agree with prayer – the Shema itself was a prayer – but Many of their prayers were formulaic and rooted in their Phariseetic traditions.
The last instruction may be surprising – with intelligence.
Loving God with passion and prayer fit very easily into our spiritual lives. We know we should pray and our faith in God easily brings passion – I’m not suggesting that we don’t need to check the passion-meter every now and again though!
But to love God with our intelligence?
God never intended for us to be blind in our faith in Him.
Certainly to the Jewish nation he gave them many miracles testifying to his love and devotion to them.
Jesus presented many miracles before the people but many of the religious leaders recognised them and then dismissed the person behind them.
They used their intelligence but for their own selfish needs and gains.
We are to use our intelligence to affirm and strengthen our faith and love for God.
We are to read God’s Word, look for Him in our everyday lives, and express our passion through prayer and our interactions with others.
Passion. Prayer. Intelligence.