Summary: An examination of a biblical character demonstrating the need of a vital relationship with Jesus Christ and not just a respectable alignment with a popular religious understanding.
CLOSE TO THE KINGDOM
Scripture: Mark 12:28-40
Jesus had skilfully answered the Pharisee’s questions and avoided their trap. (v.13) The scribe in today’s lesson was quite pleased with the answers and stepped forward with some questions of his own.
Scribes were professionals whose occupation was to study the Law. They were also called lawyers, who sought to safeguard the sanctity of the Law. They developed a complicated system of teaching known as “the tradition of the elders”. They were laymen who served as judges in Jewish courts. As a body they fiercely opposed Jesus and were key players in his execution. They persecuted the early church. (Acts 4:5 & 6:2)
I. THIS MAN WAS NEAR
(A) He had a great knowledge of the Scriptures.
(B) He was interested in spiritual matters. (v.28)
(C) He believed there was one true god.
(D) He believed God deserved all of our love. (v.33)
(E) He believed that outward religion was not enough. (33b)
(F) He was courageous. He stepped out from the crowd.
(G) He loved the truth. “You have said the truth!” (v.32)
II. THIS MAN WAS FAR
(A) Christ was only human. He was a son of David (v.35).
(B) This man’s pride was a barrier. (38-39)
(C) Pride of position was deadly. (John 12:42-43)
(D) Political correctness (popular opinion) is a curse. Pharisees united!
(E) He had contempt for the less fortunate and was courting damnation. (40)
(F) Jesus was good but he shouldn’t be worshipped.
(G) He already had his own religion. He was sceptical of all other religions.
(H) Repentance was out of the question. So, too, with many today.
(I) The remedy for sin was the law and nothing else.
(J) “Sin is the worst thing in the world and it comes from the best thing in the world: free will. Sin is thinking that you know better than God.” (Wm Barclay)
III. MANY ARE LIKE THIS MAN
(A) They have heard of Jesus Christ but have never been converted.
(B) They have attended church and read the Bible but are still unsaved.
(C) They give some but withhold more. Jesus requires complete surrender.
(D) They have good resolutions but usually fail to carry them out.
(E) They “try” to behave like a Christian. It’s like trying to behave like a racehorse; you need to be a racehorse first.
(F) It is like archery, there is no score given if you miss the target.
IV. IT IS BETTER TO BE NEAR THAN FAR
(A) Your chance of entering is better if you’re near the door.
(B) Some would have said he was far from the kingdom but Jesus disagreed.
(C) He loved to think, he loved integrity and he loved the Law.
(D) There is hope if you are at the door.
(E) He was deeply sincere.
(F) He was not actively fighting against Jesus.
(G) Illustration from ministry of John Fletcher. Husband forbade Christian wife to go to church. He threatened to murder her. Her loyalty to Christ brought her butcher husband near the kingdom.
V. THERE IS A SIGN ABOVE THE ENTRY
(A) The main door pivots on the word LOVE.
(B) We are to love God sincerely: with all our heart.
(C) We are to love God intelligently: with all our mind.
(D) We are to love God emotionally: with all our soul.
(E) We are to love God intensely: with all our strength.
(F) We are to love God first. He is number one in our priorities.
(G) Jesus said that love would be reflected in our treatment of others.
(H) Our neighbour should be important to us. (v.31)
(J) Our neighbour gets more than lip language. (1 John 4:20-21)
(K) Our neighbour should see us as peacemakers not troublemakers. (Matt 5:8, 43-44)
(L) Holiness of heart produces this kind of love. (Hebrews 12:14)
(M) Illustration: A Robber’s conversion.
When Jesus finished speaking no one had any more questions. Has He been speaking to you this morning? At this moment you are close to the kingdom.
24 November 2002
Pillar of Fire Chapel
Bernard Dawson, pastor