Monday, February 21, 2011

Mark 12: Not Far From The Kingdom

After spending days chastising and intervening, it must have been a pleasant change for Jesus to talk with a teacher of the law who "got it", who understood that the Law is about loving God and one's neighbor and not (primarily) about rituals and sacrifices. So when Jesus heard this teacher's wise response, did he embrace him and say "well done good and faithful teacher, come join me in the Kingdom"?

No, he did not.

What he said was, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."

And "Not Far" is a synonym for "Not Close Enough." No one wants to be "not far" from the bomb shelter when the A-bomb explodes. What did this good teacher lack?

Jesus explains in the next passage: faith in Him, King David's son and master. Loving God and man isn't enough for citizenship in the Kingdom. Anyone, Jew and Gentile alike, who would enter and enjoy the Kingdom must call David's son Savior and Lord.

For all among us who live exemplary lives and strive to love God and our neighbor, but have yet to acknowledge the full identity of Jesus, be both encouraged and warned: we are "not far." We must acknowledge his delivering work on the cross for the many times we have failed to love, then follow Him as Lord into the Kingdom of God, in this life and the next.

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