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Not far from the Kingdom of God Mark 12
Not far from the kingdom of God
Mark 12:28-34

This morning we are going to take a look together at Mark 12:28-34. In this passage an expert in the Jewish law comes to Jesus and tests him with this question: "Of all the commandments, which is the important?" While the answer Jesus gives is familiar to us, what is not so familiar is the compliment that Jesus gives to the man at their conversation; for Jesus - at the end of their conversation - says to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

For today's lesson from God's Word I am going to unpack with you Jesus' summary of the Old Testament laws but we are also going to explore the compliment that Jesus gave to the Scribe "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."

READ TEXT and note context

CONTEXT

The question of "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" comes on the heels of the Pharisees and Sadducees taking turns trying to trap Jesus in his own words-- so the context is one of hostility. According to the Matthew 22, this question was meant as a "test" of Jesus.

I. THE FLOW OF MARK 12:28-34

a. A scribe (an expert in the Law) tests Jesus with a big question "What is the the most important Commandment?"
b. Jesus answers Him by making a critical declaration on the nature of God followed by a two fold summary of the 10 Commandments
c. The Scribe demonstrates that he has understood what Jesus said
d. Jesus compliments him by saying "You are not far from the Kingdom of God"


II. AS FOR THE SCRIBES QUESTION: HOW WOULD YOU HAVE ANSWERED?

Would you have said "The most important commandment is to Worship God alone... or The most important commandment is to honor your father and mother....."

Remember: This man was an expert in the Law. He knew the 10 commandments plus he knew the 603 extra laws that sprung out of the 10 commandments. No doubt he had a favourite or two in mind and was ready to debate Jesus.

III. IN ANSWERING THE SCRIBE JESUS BEGINS WITH A FOUNDATIONAL STATEMENT OF BELIEF/FAITH

A bedrock declaration "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one" Deuteronomy 6:4

2 big points flow out of this

a. THERE IS ONE TRUE GOD
b. GOD IS ONE
: When we talk of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, we are not talking about 3 gods but 1 God who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 3 co-equal, co-eternal persons of the one triune Godhead. Such is a mystery that we accept by faith

Allow for mystery and the transcendence of God in your faith!

The expected response to God: WORSHIP AND SERVICE


IV. FOLLOWING JESUS' FOUNDATIONAL STATEMENT AS TO THE NATURE OF GOD, JESUS SUMMARIZES THE LAW

He takes the 10 Commandments and the other 603 that were built on those ten and boils them down to 2 things.

1. THE FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT IS TO LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR HEART, SOUL, MIND, AND STRENGTH

What does it mean to love God with all our heart, understanding, strength?

To love God with all our hearts is to put Him first

Loving God and putting Him first is inherently practical

-With our money, our time, our efforts, in our thinking
-we must always be conscious of Him in our day to day affairs and living, mindful that we are His children and that He is our king

1 John 5:3 says; "This is love for God, to obey His commands..."

Loving God is inseparable from loving those around us

We have a great penchant for compartmentalization.

-We have a tendency to live like chameleons (our work life, our social life, our family life, our faith)
-somehow we think we can separate all these things, but we are not supposed to. Integrity demands it

2. THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT COMMAND OF GOD IS TO LOVE THOSE AROUND US AS WE LOVE OURSELVES

When it comes to loving God and then loving those around us, these things are not separable

1 John 4:20 says; "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen"

Jesus exemplified this as He did the first command

He the perfect model. We are lawbreakers. He perfectly kept the law and so we look to Jesus for our salvation and not our efforts.

In thinking about who are "neighbor" is

-It's not just the person who lives beside us or sits beside us at work or our family members
-As the parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates, it's everyone we come across
-It's the person you like and get along with
-It's the person who holds the same values and beliefs as you
-It's also the person you don't really fancy and don't get along with
-it's also the person who holds the opposite beliefs as you and who hates you

How are we to treat those around us?

-With kindness, with patience, with forgiveness, with generosity, with respect, as equals in terms of value, looking out for others needs as we look out for ourselves

The command to loving those around us as we love ourselves serves as a summary of the last 6 of the 10 commandments

To love those around us according to the 10 commandments involves

a. Honoring our father and mother
b. Not murdering other
c. Not committing adultery
d. Not stealing
e. Not lying
f. Not coveting

Such show the practicality of what it means to love. In the sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus further unpacks these 10 commandments by revealing the true intent and spirit behind these laws.


FINAL APPLICATION: Love must mark us and our ways


V. THOUGHTS ON THE MAN WHO "WAS NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD"

a. In saying this Jesus was complimenting the Scribe. That Jesus complimented him is no small thing.


While Jesus is often warm, caring, and gracious in the Gospels, he doesn't hand out compliments left and right, so for this man to complimented is something

b. In parroting back to Jesus - in his own words- what Jesus said, the teacher of the law demonstrated that he understood what Jesus said. This in itself is noteworthy, for people - including his own disciple- often failed to comprehend what Jesus was saying.

What he seems to have understood is this:

It seems that this teacher of the law rightly understood that following God is not bound up in ritual and merely the letter of the law-- he seems to have understood that following God has to come from a heart that loves God and loves those around you.

This is significant, for so many people boil down religion to ritual and rules, thinking that being right with God entails a simple attempt to follow the 10 commandments or being a good person. The problem is, we can't perfectly keep the 10 Commandments and we are NOT good people-- for one cannot argue that one who lies, hold grudges, hates, curses, thinks adulterous thoughts, and who steals is a actually a good person.

c. "Not far" while a compliment, also meant "Not in"

Great learning. Gentleness, Kindness, compassion, love, comprehending the things of God (as this man did) do not make one a member of God's kingdom

In some respects Jesus' statement is an agonizing one for like his parables and teaching more was required of that man.

Hopefully that teacher of the law went away and pondered what Jesus said. Hopefully that man went away and said "He complimented me but he also said that I have fallen short, so must I do to close that gap and become of God's Kingdom"

VI. IT MAY BE THAT SOME OF YOU HERE ARE LIKE THIS MAN: You are not far from the Kingdom of God.

You are not yet members of God's Kingdom, but you are not far from it either.

Signs a person may not be far from the kingdom?

-They gladly hear the word of God
-There is a love and hunger for the Word of God
-There is spiritual sensitivity to right and wrong in the sight of God
-There is an understanding that following God must come from the heart and is not just about "do's and don'ts"
-Jesus holds a real attraction to them-- his teachings, his life, his miracles, his substitutionary death, his resurrection, his promises,


VII. WHAT IS REQUIRED? What was required of the teacher of the Law who Jesus complimented? What is required today to bridge the gap between not being far from the Kingdom and being in the Kingdom of God?


VIII. FAITH! Faith in Jesus as Savior, as Lord, as the Messiah.

In Mark, Jesus is shown to have power and authority over nature, over sickness, over death, to forgive sins, and over evil spirits.

Mark's clear presentation of Jesus is that He is God in the flesh and the only Savior from our sins and the judgment to come.

To go from not being in the Kingdom of God to being a member of it, takes a simple step of faith; faith in Jesus.

If you haven't put your faith and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, hear these words from the Scripture

"Be reconciled to God"

"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." Isaiah 55:6-7

Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." John 6:28-29

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!

Closing song: And can it be