Summary: Jesus tells us that if we love God and neighbor, then we are close to the kingdom.

Title: Mile Marker 0

Scripture: Mark 12: 28-34

Theme: If you love God and neighbor, then you are close to the kingdom.

28One 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.[a] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]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. 33To 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." 34When 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.

When I was little I grew up traipsing along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That was before the big 4 lane roads were built. Back when you could find a place such as a hotel by the mile marker number – those little green signs with white numbers on the right shoulder of the road. When you followed these numbers, you didn’t need any fancy directions. By following the mile markers you would always know how far you were from your destination. Jockey’s Ridge is located at mile marker 12 on hwy. 158. When I moved up to the mountains and got out on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I found the use of those same mile markers. In Avery County at Mile Marker 312 there is a nice little Country store. Up in Sparta at Mile marker 88, the DOT has planted a beautiful array of flowers that bloom almost year round.

Well I found out something interesting the other day that I had never really thought much about. There actually exits a Mile Marker 0. In fact, there are several. But the one I found out about on the east coast is located in Key West, Florida. Mile Marker 0 is actually where Hwy. 1 ends and begins. U.S. Highway 1 begins with number 126 just south of Florida City and ends with mile marker zero at the corner of Fleming and Whitehead streets in Key West. Residents of the Keys refer to these markers continually when giving directions to tourists. Visitors shouldn’t be surprised to be told that the spot they’re seeking is at, just before or just beyond a mile marker number. If you keep up with the signs, you’ll know which way you are going and you won’t get lost!

In today’s scripture lesson, Jesus gives us some mile markers. He says, Love God with all that you are and all that you have and love your neighbor as much as love yourself. If you do these things, then you are close to mile marker 0.

We are all at a different place in our spiritual growth, in our spiritual journey. But because of what Jesus said we can judge whether or not we are going in the right direction!

Love God – with your heart. With your mind, with your soul, with your strength. Fully, completely, surrendering all to God. Allowing God first place in your life. Actively putting God first, using your time to learn more about God. Even when you are tired. Even when there’s so much other stuff going on. Love God – with everything you have – 100%.

Love neighbor – as much as you love yourself. There is no doubt in my mind that we love ourselves way too much. When push comes to shove, most of us will jump right in and fight if someone dares to hurt or offend us. Most of us will stand up for our rights, for our possessions, for our ideas. We spend countless time and money on making ourselves better. Jesus says we are to love others that much! In fact he says our neighbors. Neighbor does not mean the person whom you live beside. Neighbor is anyone you come into contact with. Anyone that you hear their story – that is your neighbor. Love them as much as yourself.

And if you do these things, then you are close – you are headed in the right direction – to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God – the beginning of all that is; the completion of all that is.

Jesus is there – at mile marker 0. Jesus is the example for us to follow. The markers of our journey are before us. What mile marker are you at? Are you headed in the right direction? Would Jesus say to you today, “You are close to the Kingdom of God?”

Let us pray.

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