- Written by Rick Lentz Rick Lentz
- Published: 14 August 2012 14 August 2012
In 1999, I had to write a paper for my masters program and answer Jesus' question in Mark 8:28, "Who do you say that I am?" After much reading, thought, and prayer, I came to the conclusion that Jesus was the perfect example of the "man of the Shema". Briefly the Shema is the prayer that devout Jews pray at least twice a day and is comprised of three parts: The Shema (Deut. 6:4--9), the Vehayah (Deut. 11:13-21), and the Vaiyomer (Num. 15:37-42). Shema is the Hebrew word for "hear" and the first word of the passage. For my purposes, I am going to concentrate on Deut. 6:4-5 -- "Hear, O' Israel: The Lord our God is Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all you soul, and with all your might." And Leviticus 19:18b -- "[B]ut you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (NRSV)
In Luke 10:25-28, a lawyer asks Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus then asks, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" The lawyer responds by quoting Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18b. Jesus replies, "You have given the right answer; do this and you shall live." In Matt. 22:34-39, the situation is reversed when a lawyer asks Jesus which commandment is the greatest. Jesus responds by quoting Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18b. Then Jesus states that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
In everything Jesus did, he showed his love and obedience to God and his love for others. Even when Jesus reproved someone, he did it from a loving concern for the other person's best interest. That is, he wanted others to change the way they looked at obedience to God and change their attitudes toward God and others. He tried to show them how to live the Law the way God intended through care for others; not through blind obedience filled with self-concern. Ultimately, in total obedience and love for the Father, he gave up his life by dying on the cross out of his love for us.
I pray that by pondering the question, "Who do you say that I am? In light of the gospels, you will come to understand who Jesus is and how you can better live your life in him by being a person of the Shema.