(A few years ago, when I had only one child, wasn’t teaching, and had tons of free time, I attempted what now seems impossible to me: write a post a day during Easter week. For some reason, I’m under the delusion that I can achieve said goal again. So, if I fail, please don’t hold it against me!)
Where to begin today?!! Tuesday of Easter Week was quite the busy day for Jesus! Jesus spent the day teaching in the temple (and really, really aggravating the Pharisees, scribes, and other “holy men”). There are so many amazing things to look at, and I’m definitely not able to unpack them all! I decided to focus on an encounter between Jesus and a scribe related in Mark 12:28-34.
“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And 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.’…32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 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, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (ESV)
The man asking this question was extremely familiar with what we call the Old Testament, and the Jewish law. He probably spent most of his days copying text from one scroll to another. He was an interpreter of the law, and possibly a teacher. Point being: he knew his Bible! He knew which commandment was most important (obviously, since he’s smart enough to concur with Jesus’ response, and not to argue!). The greatest commandment is that we love God with ALL that is within us, with everything we are and have. It’s that we make God the center of everything in our lives, our world, our universe. God first, everything else comes after.
But one thing struck me as I read this: Jesus’ response to the scribe. “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Indeed, the man was mere feet away. In front of him stood the very God that he just confessed must be given total allegiance. Speaking to the man was the God that flung the stars in the heavens, covered the Earth with water, and in fact knit the man himself together! The man rightly agreed that loving God above all must be primary in life, and Jesus, God incarnate, the Lover of his soul, is standing before him.
He was inches away from his Savior, and yet he might have been in another galaxy. For to miss Jesus, no matter how close you get, is to miss everything! And our world is full of such people today. Our churches are full of such people. They know the Bible. They know the right things to say. They know how to interpret the tough passages. Yet, at the end of it all, they have a head knowledge of God, but no relationship with Him. They know all about Him, but they don’t KNOW Him. Anybody know what I’m talking about?
I wonder what became of this scribe. I wonder what his response to Jesus’ statement was. Did he remember Jesus’ words to him come Friday? What about Sunday? Or 50 days later at Pentecost, when the whole city of Jerusalem was turned upside down over this Jesus standing in front of him.
But more importantly, I wonder what YOU think of his statement? How far are you from the kingdom? Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. You can get close, and be miles away.