Deuteronomy 13-15 Mark 12:28-44
“When Jesus saw that the man answered him wisely, Jesus said to him, ‘You are close to the kingdom of God.’ And after that, no one was brave enough to ask Jesus any more questions.” (Mark 12:34)
There are “eureka!” moments teachers experience when a student shows that they understand what they’ve been teaching. This was how Jesus reacted to one of those moments. One of the teachers of the Law had asked Jesus which commandment was most important. Jesus gave him two answers that included loving God and loving neighbors. The man responded by repeating what Jesus said and then adding, “These commands are more important than all the animals and sacrifices we offer to God.” (v. 33) This guy got it! Loving God and people is more important to God than following the rituals. Especially interesting was the reaction of everyone else. When Jesus told that this teacher was now “close to the kingdom of God,” everyone else shut up. I can’t help but imagine that most of them were wondering, “if understanding that teaching only made him “close” to the Kingdom of God, what can we ask to get a better response?
When the people in this story didn’t ask the obvious follow-up question, they missed the opportunity to find out what they needed to do to gain access to the Kingdom of God. Jesus would have told them to believe in the Son of Man. We can enter the Kingdom of God only through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, not by the things we do. There are a lot of people today, good people, who, like that teacher, are close to the Kingdom of God. We look at them and think, “there must be a special place in heaven” for people like that. While I love being around people like that, the focus is wrong. The implication is that their works have made them fit for the Kingdom. The truth is that the only way anyone can get reservations in heaven is by placing their faith and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Only He can forgive sins. Only He can make us fit for the Kingdom of God.
Lord, how right You are that we must love God and love people. Help me to love God as You forgive my sins and cleanse me from all my unrighteous words and deeds.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.