Summary: What does it mean to be 'not far' from the Kingdom? These troubling words were told to the one who knew all the right words to say.
Not Far From the Kingdom
• Can you imagine how describe felt when he heard Jesus say, “You are not far from the kingdom of God?”
• This had been a busy day for Jesus. Since coming into the temple, He had been confronted by just about everybody in the building. It began with the Sanhedrin who, when Jesus finished speaking, walked away with the truth that Jesus said they may not make it to heaven. The continued with the Pharisees and the Herodians who, when Jesus finished with them, walked away in disbelief and marveled at his wisdom. Next, came the Sadducees. When Jesus finished with them, they knew how Jesus felt about them and their theology. In a word Jesus said, “YOU OUR WRONG!”
• It appears that this one scribe has been watching Jesus for this entire day and has taken in all the confrontations to Jesus and heard all the answers by Jesus. When the smoke cleared, it would seem that this scribe felt like he had the one question which might ultimately reveal Jesus for who He was. So as we have read, this scribe puts the question to Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Now it is easy for us to get real spiritual, but I ask you how would you have answered that question? Just ponder your response for a second.
• Let it not be lost on you and me that this scribe attempted to come privately, but Jesus answered publicly. He began, “The most important is,“ and at that point, it appears that he spoke to the crowd by saying, “Hear, oh Israel.” It would seem that this scribe had asked a very important question and Jesus wanted to make sure that everybody heard the answer. And with everyone’s attention, Jesus said, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.” My personal opinion is that Jesus did not even take a breath and continued, “The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
• The scribe was not taken back at all, in fact, he agreed with Jesus and restate it all that Jesus said and responded you’re right. In our modern day culture were thinking making progress. I mean, Jesus and the scribe or agreeing? Does this mean the scribes believer, a follower, a Christian?
• We should never be fooled, Jesus never is. He looked at this scribe and saw a very religious man, a learned man, a devout man, a faithful man, and yet a man who was only close to the kingdom.
• Over the past few weeks as I have meditated on the Scripture, the thought has run through my mind asking, “What does it mean to be not far from the kingdom?” Because I think like I think, the ensuing question is how many people are like this scribe and believe themselves to be in the kingdom when in the words of Jesus, they are not far.
• For the next few moments, consider and think about with me what it means to be “Not far from the kingdom of God.” What I would like to do for the next few moments is to consider two questions; a) How do you get “Not far?”, 2) What does it mean to be “Not far?”
1. So, how do you get to be not far from the kingdom of God? The beginning of this answer lies in the depravity of man. Because of our sin nature, we will never move toward God on our own. There must be something stirred up inside of us. Left to our own vices, we will immerse ourselves in those things that God sees as sin (I. E. Selfishness, self-centeredness, immorality, and the like). It is only when something is planted inside of us that will find ourselves redirected and close to the kingdom of God. So, to find ourselves not far from the kingdom, I suggest, we need two things;
a. A clear destination. Most people have a clear idea of where they want to ‘end up,’ HEAVEN! I am yet to hear someone with a clear understanding of the place say, “I want to go to hell.”
• Consider the scribe. He was indeed a learned man. The life of a scribe was very structured. He would enter his training, often times, around the age of 13 and would study, learn, and develop until age 30 when he would be 'licensed' or 'installed.' By my count, that was 17 years of study. Many of the scribes graduated to write legal documents - while others spent their lives recording and transcribing scripture. They knew the books of law and prophets and understood, so they thought, the Kingdom of God. They knew that, in eternity, they wanted to be in Heaven with Jehovah God. The understood the concept of “Gehenna”-that place with never-ending fire.