These small group studies of the gospel of Mark 1:35-45 contain outlines, commentary, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Mark 12:28-40 Bible Study Guide - Free In-Depth Lesson Plan


Love God and love your neighbors (28-34)
The Messiah is divine (35-37)
Be pleasers of God rather than pleasers of people (38-44)

Verses 28-34 Discussion Questions

Do you think this scribe was trying to test/challenge Jesus like the others?

What is the most important command? Why is this the most important? What other commandments are tied to this one?

How would you define “loving God?”

How can you show love to God whom you cannot see?

What does with “all your heart, all your soul, all your strength” mean? Is there any difference between these three things? Why are is it repeated three times?

What is the second greatest commandment? Why is this so important? Who does it include?

What can you do to love your neighbor?

Are you fulfilling these commands? What do you need to do to love God more? To love your neighbor more?

What additional observation did the scribe make? What was Jesus' response to it? What does this show us about his motivation for this question?

What does it mean that he is not far from the kingdom of God?


Deuteronomy 7:9 – God is faithful and keeps His covenant with those who love and obey Him.

Deuteronomy 6:2-6 – Shema.

John 14:15, 21 – He who keeps My commands is the one who loves Me.

1 John 4:19 – We love because He first loved us.

John 15:12-14 – Love one another as I have loved you.

John 21:15-17 – If you love Me, feed my sheep.

Matthew 6:24 – You cannot serve God and money.

1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or the things in the world.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Not all of the scribes and religious leaders were hostile to Jesus. We know in other passages that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea believed in Jesus. Others were surely either believers or at least on the fence. This scribe seems to be one who is more open to Jesus. There are several reasons to believe that his question was sincere and not a desire to trap Jesus. Firstly, it would seem that this is not a trick question. Jesus would not have incriminated Himself unless He gave a really off the wall answer. Secondly, Jesus answered it at face value. Often when they asked Him questions to trap Him He asked them questions in return or ignored their question to get back to the heart of the issue. In this case, He simply answered it. Thirdly, the scribe agreed with Jesus’ answer. Fourthly, he added the observation that loving God is more important than burnt offerings. Finally, Jesus thought highly of the scribe’s answer and commented that he was close to the kingdom of God.

2. What is the most important commandment? This is a great question. In the Old Testament there are hundreds upon hundreds of commands. These range from detailed steps to dealing with daily matters to overarching life direction principles. Each commandment was important and should have been followed, but how could someone go through all of those minute commands and still keep their eyes on THE most important principles which guide all of the other commands? Jesus is about to tell the core commands in the Bible. These are the foundation from which all others flow. See Matthew 22:36-40. Jesus said that all of the law and the prophets stem from these two commands. Let’s go around the table and mention any command you can think of in the Bible. Here are a few examples:

A. Do not worship other gods – Love God.

B. Rest on the Sabbath – Love God

C. Do not divorce and remarry – Love your neighbor (wife)

D. Do not bear false witness – Love your neighbor

E. If you see your neighbor’s ox in a pit, get it out and return it to him – Love your neighbor

As you can see, the list goes on and on. Virtually every (if not all) command in the Bible is a specific way in which we need to show our love to God and to our neighbors.

3. Verses 29-30 –

A. You shall love - People are commanded to love God. It’s not, “you have your belief and I have mine.” Every person should love God. He is the Creator. He made us. He fashioned us in His own image. He sustains our very lives and our very world. Every breath is from Him. He also forgives and sanctifies and gives new life. What should we do? We should love Him because He first loved us. It is brazen rebellion to not love God. Loving God is right. It is what we should do. The words “you shall love” shows us that love is a choice, an action, a decision, not a feeling.

B. The LORD – YHWH. I AM WHO I AM. The eternally existent and self-sufficient Supreme Creator. He should be the Master of our life.

C. Your God – God is personal. He desires a personal an intimate relationship with each of us. He is not an impersonal force such as Hinduism teaches. He is not a concept. He is not a state of mind like New Age beliefs may say. He is not distant and uncaring like taught by deists. He wants to be your God. He wants to be your Father. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. He cares about you as an individual. What is more, He sent His only Son to die for you. Because He is personal, He answers our prayers and He sympathizes with us in the struggles and challenges which we face.

D. With All – To what degree should we love God? What would your families or friends say about how much you should love God? In China it is very common to say, “Having a belief is good. Just don’t be too extreme.” The idea is that belief is good because it can give us comfort or hope. Yet do not spend too much time, energy, or effort on it because your job, career, and things are more important. This kind of idea greatly lowers God. It makes Him our servant to be there and help us when we need it rather than the other way around. Jesus says we are to love God with ALL our heart, soul, and mind. Not just part. Not even 90 or 99%. What does that mean? What would that look like in action? It means that we should put God first. He is the priority. You cannot be too extreme in following God because He is worthy of any possible sacrifice we could make. Other passages tell us that love for God means we are to obey Him. If we love Him with all our heart we should obey ALL of His commands, not just the convenient ones. We cannot pick and choose. We have to open up our lives and say to God, “Here I am, my life, my family, my money, my home, all of it is yours. Do with me whatever you want. I am here to serve you.” What would you sacrifice/give for your child? Are you willing to give that (and more) for God? Is there anything in life you have held back from God thinking that this is yours while you will serve Him in other areas? You need to give it up to God today.

E. Your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength – Those shows us the comprehensive nature of the love we are to have for God. It is to be inside and out, visible and hidden, our thoughts, and our actions. We are to love Him with all of our mind. This includes all of our thoughts. Do your thoughts honor God? Do not allow your mind to run wild. If a printer were hooked up to your mind to print out your thoughts for all to see, would you be ashamed? If so, then you are not loving God with all your mind. In addition, loving God with our mind means we are to make decisions, both big and small, out of a desire to serve and obey God. We are to put Him first in all the decisions which we make. When you make a decision do you ask for God’s guidance? Do you evaluate your decision based on the Bible? Do you make the decision out of a desire to please God? If we are only commanded to love God with all our heart then it would be easy to separate our “heart emotions” from our actions. A person might think that they disobeyed God’s command out of necessity, but still love God in their heart. But we are also commanded to love with all our strength. What do we use our strength for? To move and to act. Loving God with all of our strength means everything which we do should be done out of a desire to please God. In Bible times there were a lot of farmers. These farmers worked from sunup until sundown day after day on their farms. It was hard work and included cutting down trees, carrying heavy rocks, tilling the soil, etc. Perhaps they thought they were too busy on the farm to serve God. Maybe when they became old and could not work in the fields anymore, then they would serve God. But then they would not have much strength left or much time left. We should use our strength to serve God while we are young and while we still have plenty of energy. Many of you here are in the workforce. You pile up thousands of hours at your job. Some of you may be struggling because you want a promotion or a better career. How about your service to God? Do you use up all your energy on yourself and your own career? Are you so tired from your work that you have no energy left to serve God? To read the Bible? To go to church? To share the gospel? Remember Jesus didn’t say love the Lord your God with any strength you have leftover after you get off work or retire. He said to love God with all of your strength. Are you doing that? If not, think about what you need to change to start loving God with all your strength.

4. Verse 31 – Jesus gave the scribe an extra bonus answer about the second most important commandment. This one is closely related to the first. Many times we love God by loving people. See Matthew 25:36-44. We cannot see God. But we can see the people around us. Our love for God should motivate us to love them as well. There are many examples that loving the people around us is THE WAY by which we love God. For example, in giving. I don’t think there is any cash in heaven. God has no use for your pieces of paper with Chairman Mao (or Lincoln) on the front of it. But we give to God by giving to people in need or people (such as missionaries or pastors) who use those funds for serving God. See 1 John 4:20. I had three brothers so I heard this verse from my mom many times growing up. God requires us to show our love for Him by obeying His commands to love the people around us. When I heard this verse growing up sometimes I thought, “Yeah, but God is perfect and my brother is not.” And yet Jesus said we should love each other as He has loved us. John 15:12-14. We certainly didn’t deserve His love, but He loved us anyway. Another example is found in Jesus’ conversation with Peter in John 21:15-17. He told Peter that if he loved Jesus, he should feed His sheep. Teaching and preaching the Word was the mission Christ called Peter to. What is God calling you to? He certainly calls each of us to share the gospel. This is one of the best ways we can show love to a lost world, by giving them the chance to be part of Christ’s family.

Love your neighbor as yourself – Jesus showed in the parable of the Good Samaritan what the term “neighbor” means. What does it mean? You can see these passages and Jesus’ answers were carefully fashioned to take away any potential excuses which we would have. The commands are extremely clear. There is nothing ambiguous or confusing. Hence, they become a good question when we are not sure what to do. These commands can be a helpful guide in giving us direction.

A. Love God first. This command comes before the command to love your neighbor because loving God is more important. IF you have to choose between loving God and loving a person, you should always choose God. You can ask yourself, “Am I loving God first? Am I loving God with ALL my heart, soul, mind, and strength?”

B. Love your neighbor as yourself. Last week we learned an important question about how to face controversial topics. Do you remember what it was? It was, “What does the Bible say?” This week, we will learn another important question. This question is, “What is the loving thing to do?”

Should you scold your wife or not: “What is the loving thing to do?”

Should you yell at your child or not: “What is the loving thing to do?” Sometimes it might be loving to yell at your child, such as if they are about to run in front of a car, but generally it is not.

Should you visit your friend in the hospital or take a nap: “What is the loving thing to do?”

So many problems you face can be solved by asking two questions, “Is this loving God?” and “Is this loving my neighbor?” If today you learn to ask these two questions of yourselves regularly it will be a successful study.

5. The scribe agreed with Jesus – Then he added the observation that these things are more important than burnt offerings. See 1 Samuel 15:22. His observation was spot on. This was the core problem with the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They followed most of the commands of the law, but