Summary: Accepting the basic truth of God's word brings one "Near the Kingdom."
“Not Far From the Kingdom”
Invitation song: “Almost Persuaded”
1. Scripture Reading (NASV; NKJV; NCV )
a) This scribe had witnessed a clash between Jesus and the Sadducees and had decided that Jesus was a wise teacher. He wanted, sincerely, to know what commandments were the greatest.
1) When he asks what was the “first” commandment, he doesn’t mean the first in “order”, but the first in weight, or in rank of importance. [see NIV, etc.]
b) He wanted Jesus to resolve a disputed issue. Some Pharisees held that the law of sacrifices was the most important.
2. Jesus answered him according to the scripture read. To love God with all the heart and soul was first, and second to love thy neighbor.
a) The “shema” was Deut. 6:4-5. “Hear” ... Love God.
b) Leviticus 19:18; love your neighbor.
3. On these two basic truths hang all the laws of God (Matt. 22:40).
a) The scribe cites Hosea 6:6.
b) Someone has said, That if you love God with all your heart, soul and might, you can do anything else you want to. Because, as Jesus says, the one who loves him, will keep his commandments.
b) The one who loves God with such a passion will do that which is right, he will not want to do otherwise.
4. This scribe, who is unnamed, for I’m sure he represented many men in his day, and just as well he is not named, for many are like him today. You might be like him.
5. He was one who agreed completely with the Lord. He believed the Lord was right.
a) This teacher of the law recognizes the accuracy of Jesus’ statement, he approves of it, and views Him as an excellent Teacher.
b) Verse 32. “Well said Teacher, you have spoken the truth.”
c) And Jesus said of him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”
6. I am glad that it was Jesus who said these words rather than some disciple or someone else. Hade it been someone else we would probably have objected strongly to them.
a) We would say, “No one is nearer the kingdom of God than anyone else. One not in the Kingdom had just as well be miles away from it. Or, one outside the kingdom a mile is just as well off as one outside it a foot.”
7. As we look at this statement of Jesus, we see both some good things, and some tragic things.
a) It is more blessed to be near the kingdom than a far piece off, because with one’s nearness, there is the greater likelihood he will take the steps to enter –
b) This scribe was nearer the kingdom, when he expressed love for God than a man who was an atheists, or who had no had not concern for other men.
c) I think it is a much better thing to be near the kingdom, than a long ways from it, for possible entrance into the kingdom is greater.
d) There is HOPE for those who understand and believe this great truth.
8. The tragic element of the statement, of course, is the revelation that the man was not in the kingdom, but only near it. Thus it is a sad story.
a) Jesus knew some good men, who were not far from the kingdom. And one of the great sorrows in my life, is knowing some good people who are living their life not far from the kingdom of God. One of the saddest griefs in life is to loose some acquaintance that I highly love and respect– knowing that they were not a part of God’s kingdom. Near to it, not far away perhaps, but never committed to being a part of it.
II. I would like briefly to note
some characteristics about the man in Mark 12 that made him so near the kingdom.
The same thing that makes many today near the kingdom. And if you are near, you may think that I am talking about you . . . and I am.
First – This man was brought near by his intellectual sincerely. Vs. 34. (John 6:45 ff.
1. Being a “scribe” of the law, he was a man more acquainted with the Word of God, than most men, and he appears as one who was an anxious inquirer for more knowledge.
2. There are many here today like him, and in this respect are like Apollos –
Second – He was brought near by his moral integrity.
1. The question he raised of Jesus was not to arouse a controversy. He wasn’t doing it for the purpose of arguing or starting a religious quarrel.
a) He wanted to know just what Jesus himself would say about this matter.