Summary: This sermon explores how to live in a right relationship with God and all humanity.
Not Far From The Kingdom – Mark 12: 28 - 34
Intro: When my kids were very little we would travel from Indiana to Ohio to spend a month at the summer home of my in-laws. The boys loved “the cottage,” fishing, swimming, and being spoiled by their grandparents. We would no sooner get on the road than I would hear a voice from the back seat, “Are we there yet?” My answer would be, “It’s not far.” Anyone who has traveled with children in the confines of an automobile has repeated that same scenario. “Are we there yet?”
I. Verse 28 – “Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer . . . “
A. Scribes (teachers of the law) were professionals (lawyers) who sought to safeguard the sanctity of the Law. Developed a system of teaching known as “The Tradition of the Elders.” – Opposed Jesus – key players in his execution.
B. Within Judaism there was a double tendency: 1) to expand the law limitlessly into 100s and 1000s of rules, and 2) to try to gather up the law into one sentence.
C. Teachers of the Law (Scribes) covered the same ground over and over hoping to find a new clue that would lead them to treasure. Their approach to the scriptures was an intellectual exercise.
II. Verses 29 & 30 – “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Shema) Love with heart, soul, mind and strength.”
A. Deut. 6:4 – 9; Deut. 11:13-21; Num. 15: 37 – 41 any one of which Jesus may have had in mind. Contained in phylacteries (boxes tied to forehead and wrist of devout Jews) and Mezuzah (cylinder fixed to doorway of every Jewish home.
B. Love the Lord not with a portion or part but with ALL:
Heart (GK. Heart, mind, seat of thought and emotion)
Soul (GK. Psyche, life, soul, heart, mind, a person)
Mind (GK. Seat and center of man’s purely intellectual life and attitudes.)
Strength (GK. Anything that gives one power: muscles, beauty, wealth, position, talent, connections, natural leadership)
C. Jesus challenges the Scribe and us to love God with all that we are and to demonstrate that love by the use of all our faculties holding nothing back.
III. Jesus is quoting Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall love your fellow Jew as yourself.” --- changing fellow Jew to neighbor.
A. The Great Commandment contains 3 key elements: 1) belief in one God, 2) whole-hearted devotion to God and 3) love of neighbor.
B. Two questions naturally emerge: 1) What does love of God do for love of neighbor? And 2) what does the practice of loving one’s neighbor do for loving God?
C. Jesus would have said that the only way in which a person could prove they loved God was by showing that they loved their neighbor. Love is more than a feeling. Love finds expression in concrete acts and often takes on the character of justice; and neighbor is not just the people next door or those we like. By changing fellow Jew to neighbor Jesus broadens the meaning to take in all humanity as in the story of the good Samaritan.
Conclu: The scribe and Jesus come to an agreement and Jesus commends the scribe for his questioning; but, Jesus concludes in verse 34 with, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” --- You’re not quite there yet! If you really want to get there you can. But, how far is NOT FAR? How far are you from the kingdom, from fulfilling the two commands of Jesus? --- Are we there yet?