Why does Jesus not quote the whole scripture?

Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

The first commandment that Jesus quotes is the Shema of the Jewish tradition from Deuteronomy 6:4. The second commandment (underlined) is from Leviticus 19:18, but Jesus does not say the entire scripture.


Here is the entire verse - "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."

Why does Jesus not cite the first half of this verse? 

What does it mean for us to understand the "golden rule" without the "take no vengeance" part? 

It seems that we all know that we should love one another. But the fact of the matter is that one person's act of love is another's act of hate. (Also see the language of some people who discuss the future of this country) 

Have we overlooked to basics of what love looks like? At the very basic level love is without vengeance and grudges. 

Everyone is trilingual. Yes, even you. Part 2

Expanding on Peterson's thought in this book, when we are born we quickly are thrown into learning language. 

The first language we learn is that of intimacy. It is that language that we hear parents speaking to their children, or what loves speak to one another over candlelight. It is what we hear in the book the Song of Solomon in the Bible. And according to Peterson, it is the language of prayer. 

There are fewer ways to quickly quiet a room than to simply say, "let us pray." Even the non-religious people in the room become quiet. We become quiet because, at some level, everyone recognizes that what is about to be said will be said in another language. Prayers are spoken in the language of relationship and everyone respects the intimacy of this language. Which might explain why we all become quiet. 

We also could all become quiet because we know that in a prayer we are all about to hear a language that is both familiar and foreign. It is like a dream or déjà vu. We listen to a language that we once used so often but, for many of us, it has been a while since we accessed it. It is like riding a bike after years of driving, it takes a moment but in short time it all comes back to us. 

As we value more and more the languages of information and motivation, we find ourselves seeking out those who still are fluent in our common native tongue. You see a baby and cannot help but listen to her babble in the hopes you will be able to hear what she has to say. You find a poet who speaks with a rhythm that moves your soul. You find a teacher that uses the same words you use everyday but yet says them differently. 

We are desperate for those who know and use our native language of intimacy and relationships, and the most common way to hear it is through a collective prayer. 

There are so few who speak this tongue fluently and there are so many of us who feel out of practice. 

Which is why when we hear, "let us pray", we all become silent - hoping once again to hear the language of our home.

Everyone is trilingual. Yes, even you. Part 1

In his book, The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson breaks language into three categories which he labels Language I, II, and III.

Peterson's definition of each category:
"Language I is the language of intimacy and relationship."
"Language II is the language of information."
"Language III is the language of motivation."

Peterson goes on to say that our current culture is dominated by language II and III. We know the power of information and the power of using language to "get things done." Language I is something that is generally reserved for those moments when you are cooing a baby or whispering sweet nothings into a lover's ear. Language II and III get us money and power and prestige. Language I seem to only result in mementos and memories. 

Finally Peterson reminds the reader that Language I is the language of prayer. 

After reflecting on this passage in his book, a few things struck me

First of all everyone is trilingual. Everyone speaks the language of intimacy, information and motivation. In Christian spirituality it is critical to our formation that we are fluent in all three languages. One might say that spiritual formation is rooted in "Trinitarian language".

The issue might be that too many Christians are attempting to live out Christian spirituality but only using two of the three languages that are necessary for Christian spirituality. 

Christians are great at getting people to learn what the Bible has to say or what we believe. Christians also are good at getting people to understand the things that we are to do as Christians - build homes, feed people, visit the sick, etc. Where we fail in our spiritual formation is that Christians are not very good at cultivating the language of intimacy. 

Christianity is a faith practice that is rooted in "Trinitarian language" and when we are only using two of the three languages we are always going to remain immature. 

"I will pray for you."

Of the many phrases that ministers use, one that might be the most common might be "I will pray for you."

It has become aware to me that that phrase may be misunderstood by people.  

When I say "I will pray for you", I do not mean I will not just add you to a laundry list of people or situations.  I will not just pray "for you" as one might ask God to provide you something as just one of many voices that will also ask, and thus operate like nagging children to a parent.  I will not just pray for you as a way of thinking of you for a moment.  

I will not pray for you so that you do not have to pray.  

Rather, when I say I will pray for you I mean that in light of your situation, you may not be able to pray for yourself.  You may be in a situation that is difficult or troubling that results in your inability to pray.  Perhaps you are so overjoyed in life that you are unable to focus on praying for the least, last and lost of the world.  Perhaps you are so down that you cannot pray for new life, new creation and resurrection.  

It is in these situations that I will pray for you.

I will pray for you when you cannot pray for yourself.  

This ought to be part of the reason why we go to worship on Sunday regardless of your state of mind.  

Perhaps you cannot pray that day - the community of the Body of Christ will pray for you.  

Perhaps you cannot sing that day - the community of the Body of Christ will sing for you. 

Perhaps you cannot listen that day - the community of the Body of Christ will listen for you.

Perhaps you cannot lament that day - the community of the Body of Christ will lament for you.

I will pray for you when you cannot pray yourself, because we are the Body of Christ.  We are the Church.  

I know that there are days for which I cannot pray, sing, listen or lament...

and I know the Body of Christ will do that for me.