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?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 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.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Two for one! A bargain! The scribe indeed got more than he had bargained for. Scribes were the ones who controlled the flow of authoritative content in that society. They knew how to both read and write, and how to use words effectively to got a point across and sway an opinion. If you needed to make a good impression for business you would pay a scribe to write a letter of introduction for you. That, most likely, would be read by another scribe to the recipient. Perhaps we could see a parallel in a combination of public servant and journalist? This man is impressed by Jesus and wants to find out what is important to him. Love God AND love your neighbour. One cannot be done without the other. Unlike many other encounters in Mark’s gospel between Jesus and scholars and religious leaders, in this one the scribe is open to hear and is not trying to entrap. This openness give us the setting for deep, life changing, teaching.