Jesus redefines what it means to love God, instead of showing love to God by observing the Torah, Jesus calls people to follow Him, and in doing so He equates loving God to having a personal relationship with Himself thereby amending the Shema, making it personal. Next, He adds to the Shema by using a Leviticus passage saying Love your neighbor as yourself. Love of God and love of others is the core of Jesus Shema and loving God means following Jesus. McKnight believes the Jesus Creed is the foundation of everything Jesus teaches about spiritual formation and after having read his book I have to say I agree. Everything Jesus does is out of love for God and for others as illustrated time and time again throughout the Gospels. Jesus not only changes the Shema, but also the prayer called The Kaddish of Judaism. Prayer is communication with God; Jesus puts the emphasis on it being a loving communication as He teaches that we should approach God as our Father or Abba.
According to McKnight, The Kaddish must have been one of Jesus favorite prayers as it seems that He took it and made it His own in what we now call the Lords Prayer. Just as the Kaddish speaks of Gods name being magnified, sanctified and that His kingdom would be established soon; The Kaddish of Jesus (Lords Prayer) does likewise. The difference is that Jesus changes how we approach God (as Abba), that we should love others as well and petition for others too. So we see that the Lords Prayer is really made up of Love-of-God petitions and Love-of-others petitions, which we see stems from Jesus Shema. Simply put, the Lords Prayer is Jesus teaching us to pray the Shema, He radically altered both by redefining love of God and by adding love of others. I never knew much if anything about Judaisms Shema or Kaddish however, now that I do it has made a world of difference in how I view the Gospels, especially many of the parables within them.
I certainly now why most Torah observant Jews wanted to get Jesus out of the picture as fast as possible, He changed everything. Who was this illegitimate child, as most considered Him, to be changing such things and making Himself out to be God? These bits of information are extremely valuable and have helped me to really have a better feel for just how radical a shift Jesus was presenting to those of His day, something we just dont see too clearly today. As I mentioned prior, Jesus taught that we should approach God as Abba. Its easy for someone to say that God loves them, but the truth has to be absorbed to really be believed so that someone will act upon it. The Lords Prayer begins with Abba or Father; in this Jesus breaks from the Judaism tradition once again.
Rarely did someone in Jesus day pray to God calling Him Abba or Father and in the rare instances it occurred it was (as far as my understanding goes) more of Father in relation to the nation of Israel, not personal as Jesus makes it for us. While all of the names used in Judaism evoke mystery and distance, Jesus by using the name Abba evokes Gods unconditional and unlimited love for His people according to McKnight. I believe without a doubt that Jesus radically changed how people related to and perceived God. Instead of God being distant and mysterious, Jesus introduces us to God, who really loves all His children. Jesus chooses the term from home because love should originate in the home where an Abba dwells, for most of us this is where our first understanding of God began and later it to some extent transferred from our parents to God.
McKnight states that we are wired this way. Our spiritual formation can only begin when we open up to receive Abbas unconditional love for us; this I believe is hard for all of us for various different reasons. Most of us probably thought at some we needed to earn Gods love, not to different from those who thought they were by being Torah observant in Jesus day. Jesus taught however that God is our Abba, who is near not far and who wants to have a personal loving relationship with us. Jesus uses the parable of the Prodigal Son to illustrate, showing what Abba is gracious and loving, waiting for us to return. God takes the first step toward us, He first loves us and Jesus gives us the name Abba to remind us daily in the Lords Prayer that God loves us, thus helping us to absorb this precious truth. I have started reciting Jesus Shema for just that purpose and will use the structure provided by the Lords Prayer often to remind me of how and who I should be making petitions for.