Sunday, March 5, 2017

Not Far from God's Kingdom

Today’s Bible Reading:  Deuteronomy 1-2; Mark 12
Topic: Responsibility

SCRIPTURE:  Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  30 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: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
(Mark 12:28-34 NIV)


The Pharisees and Sadducees generally despised and hated Jesus. The common people loved Him. However, with a few notable exceptions, the wealthy and educated class of Jews in that day (Pharisees, Sadducees, teachers of the Law, scribes, etc.), were vexed by Jesus’ wisdom and popularity with the general population. They narcissistically and repeatedly tried to show off their superiority by attempting to show Him up for the mere Galilean carpenter low life they believed He was; and He one-upped them every time. Such was the case preceding this passage in Mark 12. But then, one “teacher of the law” found himself agreeing with Jesus’ assessment of the “most important” commandments: Love the One God with all you have and love others as you love yourself.

When this teacher acknowledged his agreement with and adherence to these two greatest commandments, Jesus said an interesting thing to him: "You are not far from the kingdom of God."   


The world would be a much finer place if everyone lived their lives “not far from God’s kingdom.” However, living just outside the borders is still living outside. One of the famous “one-liners” of secret agent Maxwell Smart in the television sitcom Get Smart, when he failed at something, was to say, “missed it by that much.”

Romans 3:23 tells us the truth that we have all missed the mark. Mark does not identify the man who was “not far” from eternal life. I’d like to think that he took that next step from just outside to inside God’s kingdom by becoming a disciple of Jesus—by entering into a personal relationship with the Savior.

I don’t want people to “miss it by that much.” I don’t want people to just get close but still fall short. My job as a disciple and follower of Jesus is help show people how through relationship with Jesus Christ they can enter into the Kingdom of God.  


Lord, this world is full of people who are missing the mark. Whether we are not far from Your kingdom or quite far and moving away, we all need the Savior. May the human inhabitants of this fallen planet recognize their need and accept Your provision—Your Son—and enter into the joy of Your Kingdom. May I do my part with Your help to show them. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Amen.  -AP 

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