Mark 12:28 - 34
ESV - 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all? 29 Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
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In the Bible this phrase, “The Kingdom of God” or “The Kingdom of Heaven” is used by Jesus and is the subject of many parables. Before we can understand why Jesus tells this Scribe he is not far from the Kingdom of God we need to first know what it is. The Kingdom of Heaven/God – This refers to the Messianic promise that the Messiah or the Christ [Anointed one] would usher in a Kingdom that would last forever [Daniel 2:44, 45; Matthew 13:1-52; Luke 17:21], this kingdom is:The Church. 1. By Church I do not mean the building for the Kingdom of God is among us (Luke 17:21) 2. I am referring to the Invisible Church, or the fact that we are Christians. 3. This Church is only truly defined by Jesus Christ, for only He knows who are His own (John 10:27, 28). Jesus responds to this question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 or the Shema, a passage known by all Jews, Jesus also quotes Leviticus 19:18b. Jesus adds a little extra to the question He also gives the second greatest commandment, this is a challenge, Jesus picks an obscure verse from Leviticus that comes from a section called “Civil Law”. It’s like saying the most important law is from the Highway Traffic Act. The Scribe does something seen very rarely in the Bible, I think only two other times. He blows Jesus’ mind, firstly He adds a little extra to what Jesus says, He quotes the last bit of the Shema “He is One” and adds a passage from Deuteronomy 4:35. He then, if you can say this, corrects Jesus. He takes the Old Testament command and makes it a desire; grammatically he switches the imperatives to infinitives. He then one ups Jesus a final time and adds, “is much more”. Not only are these two greater, they are infinitely greater, further he fuses the two together. To which Jesus says, you are not far from the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is what Jesus has come to set up on this earth, the Church. Here is Christ's description of the Church: "12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another." John 15:12-17 This is different than the mission of the Church, which is evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20), this is a description of what the Church is. The Church is a people that has fellowship with God and one another, (1 John 1:3-9), is that not worth more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices?
I believe the answer is found in verse 33. 33 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." The scribe became aware that he could not comply with the righteous demands of the law and yet these two requirements greatly exceeded the atoning ability of any offering or sacrifice. He realized something else was need. When Christ replied: "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." I believe The Lord was telling the scribe, you are almost there, you now realize you are lost and can not attain to it. The law has served its purpose. Romans 3:20 "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
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