Summary: Have you seen Jesus? Is your Passion for him engrained in your very soul? How can we who have encountered the risen Christ..... do anything else ..... but love ....and follow him!
For those not familiar with an Anglican Service; there are four Scripture Readings before the Sermon. The Scripture Readings for this day were: Ruth 1:1-18; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:11-14 and Mark 12:28-34.
Let us Pray -- O Heavenly Father - we do not live by bread alone but by your every word. Spark in us an even greater passion for you ....draw us near to you and lead us to walk in the way of life. In Jesus name we pray....Amen
In our Gospel reading ..... we see a scribe,.... a teacher of the law, who asks Jesus this question .... Which of the commandments of God is first of all,
Hear his words BIBLE "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 - and -- you shall love your neighbor as yourself" BIBLE
I want us to think not only of the Lords words but also the Scribes response to what Jesus said to him.
The Scribe affirms Jesus and the truth that is found in Gods word: "You are right teacher.... this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices"
Jesus recognizes the wisdom of the scribe and says to him: "You are not far from the kingdom of God"
What an fascinating statement ....... "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
Most Scribes were more concerned with the letter rather than the spirit of the law;
They were more concerned ...... with the observance of the law ...... rather than God's intentions behind the law.
There is true wisdom in the law of God. There is true wisdom in the Scriptures.
Those who study it - can find the truth within it; "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."
These words came from our Savior ..... from the one who bears the Kingdom within his very being.
Yet in the words "not far" - it is possible also to hear that ..... "there is yet some distance to go",
On the right track - but you have not yet arrived. (Long Pause)
I have been told that in a park in Europe, next to a beautiful flower bed, there is a sign, written in three languages:
(Slow) In German the sign says: Picking flowers is prohibited. (Pause after each)
In English: Please do not pick the flowers.
In French: Those who love flowers will not pick them.
It seems to me that in this sign lies a key to what distinctions of distance we might read into Jesus statement: ........ "You are not far from the kingdom of God".
What is our motivation for doing Gods will, ..... What is our motivation for obeying Gods commands?
Is it Fear of authority? .... Picking flowers is prohibited.
Is it a desire for Gods approval And the approval of others? ...... Please do not pick the flowers.
(Slow) Or is it love? Those who love flowers will not pick them.
What does it mean "To love God"? .........What does it mean "To love our neighbors as ourselves?"
One wonders when looking at the scribe in today's Gospel reading.... if he lacked something in his understanding of the Gods law..... in Gods will?
Perhaps there was too much duty and routine in his life of obedience and ..... not enough eagerness .... Not enough passion?
Perhaps a bit too much holiness - and not enough compassion ..... not enough empathy.
Whatever it is ..... there is a distance ... a separation between the scribe ..... and the Kingdom of God -
The Distance is enough for Scribe, and for us, to hear the words "You are not far from the kingdom of God".
What causes this Passion to be implanted in our souls?
What causes us to strive to be conformed to the image of Jesus? (Pause)
I have shared this story with some of you before.
To me it sheds a light on why mature followers in the faith have a lifelong passion for Christ. (Pause)
One day, a young disciple of Christ ..... desirous of wanting to become all that God has for him visited the home of an elderly Christian.
He had heard that this old man ..... over all the years ..... had never lost his first love for Christ.
The elderly man was sitting on the porch with his dog ..... taking in a beautiful sunset. The young man posed this question:
"Why is it, sir, ..... that most Christians zealously chase after God during the first year or two after their conversion, ...... but then fall into a complacent ritual of church once or twice a week ........and end up not looking any different than their neighbors ..... who are not even Christians?