The post is based on Mark 12:33-34, which says, "... And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
It's important that we look at these verses within the context of the passage. Jesus has made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, setting the stage for His eventual trial and crucifixion. He has already thrown the money-changers out of His Father's House, and then the chief priests, scribes, and elders begin questioning His authority to "do these things". When they cannot answer His question about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, He refuses to tell them under Whose authority He acts.
So, now in Mark Chapter 12, we find both the Pharisees and the Herodians (Hellenistic Jews who were more Greek than Hebrew) trying to trap Him in their questions about loyalty to Caesar versus loyalty to God. We then find the Sadducees trying to ambush Him about the afterlife (in which they don't even believe).
But there's one scribe who has been watching all the arguing and subterfuge, and realizes that Jesus's answers are accurate. And then He asks a question that shows His heart ... Which commandment is the most important one of all? He is not interested in maintaining his own power or prestige, or in trying to diminish Jesus's authority. It is in his heart to be obedient to the commands of God and he wants to find out the answer that this man, Jesus, has to this important question.
Jesus gives a two-part answer to the question: "The Lord our God is one Lord; 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.’ The second [part] is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The Scribe recognizes that Jesus has captured the entire substance of the Ten Commandments [given to Moses] in this one answer. But he goes further... He shows his understanding of Jesus's Truth by declaring that following God's command to love Him [and his neighbor] is worth more to God than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices established by the Law. And Jesus's answer to him? You are not far from the Kingdom of God.
I want to expound on what I see happening in this extraordinary exchange between Jesus and the Scribe. What is happening here is what needs to happen in the Body of Christ! Let me try to explain what I mean... This Scribe has discerned that the laws and rituals of the sacrifices are less than God's commandments to love Him and others. And as a good Scribe, he would have been familiar with God's exhortation in Deuteronomy 10: Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? (If you love me, you will obey my commands!)Furthermore, although this Scribe may not have come to the full realization that Jesus is the Son of God, he has connected the dots that are leading him to the doorstep of the Kingdom of God. He has correctly discerned the underlying principles of the Ten Commandments. The first five point to God as the One True God, and that we are to love and seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The last five commandments exhort us to love our neighbors as we would wish to be loved.
Then the Scribe realized that these two commandments were greater in God's eyes than any of the rituals or sacrifices that had been instituted when Israel came out of bondage to Egypt. Those rituals were established to separate the Israelites from 400 years of being immersed in a false god system. They were meant to be temporary, and God now expected them to have grasped what He wanted to accomplish with them through His covenant. The next dot the Scribe connected was understanding that God desires that we show our love for Him by obeying His commands. What he doesn't know is the next dot that Jesus is getting ready to put before him.
And this is where my understanding in 2017 was immature. At the time, I thought Jesus's comment that the Scribe was not far from the Kingdom of God hinted that there will be more commands coming; that if the Scribe will be faithful to obey these commands [and thereby show his love for God], his obedience will usher in the Kingdom of God. Now, that is true -- but it's not the whole truth. [I'm not sure that we will ever discern the completeness of our God this side of heaven]. But our obedience to do the Great Commission [which is to cast out demons, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers/spiritually unclean, raise the dead, and spread the Good News that the Kingdom of God had arrived on the earth] will certainly mean that territory will be taken from the kingdom of Satan and transferred to the Kingdom of God.
But I now discern another, and perhaps, more credible understanding to Jesus's remark that the Scribe was not far from the Kingdom of God. And it is centered on Jesus's conversation with Nicodemus, another religious man, in John, Chapter 3. He tells the Pharisee that unless one is born again he cannot see or enter the kingdom of God (John 3:1-5). So, can you see that Salvation is the key to our admittance into the Kingdom? But in the Mark passage, Jesus has not yet gone to the Cross, so mankind has not been given the gift of Salvation at this time. But it wasn't far off... hence, this is why Jesus tells the Scribe, "You are not far from the kingdom of God".
I just love it when I uncover another nugget of truth and glory in the Word! Remember, Scripture says it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out (Proverbs 25:2). The dots that the wise Scribe connected are these: God commands us to love Him and others ... we show our love for Him by following His commands ... Jesus commands us (in the Great Commission) to do the things He did (healing, casting out demons, preaching the gospel) ... and it brings the Kingdom of God to earth! I just added dots that he would have been unable to understand because Salvation was not a reality yet. Thank you, Father, for revealing this scriptural jewel, and I pray that there will be many more in my lifetime. I invite you to join me; whether you are Saved or not, the Kingdom is nearer than you may think. Don't waste another day!
Matthew 5:20 "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."