By Brooke Holt
“And the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 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.’ And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.” – Mark 12:32–34
How refreshing it must have been for Jesus to have this religious leader hear him, truly hear him, and then even reflect back the truth of what Jesus had spoken. Not only did the scribe use good reflective listening, but he affirmed what Jesus said. Faith begins with knowing who God is—the one true God. Faith expands as one moves from just knowing God, to loving God. Then love expands from loving God to loving the children of God. While knowledge was the foundation for love, love was the outgrowth of that knowledge.
Too many of the religious leaders of that day were content with head knowledge. They knew the Scriptures, understood the laws, and outwardly demonstrated their righteousness to all. And since no one could fulfill these laws, there were offerings and sacrifices to take away the sins. The religious leaders outwardly followed the call to offer sacrifices, but they did so for the appearance of obeying and not necessarily due to the conviction of sin. Their hearts were far from the Lord. The law of Moses focused on the external law, but Jesus came to bring internal transformation.
Jesus came to heal hearts. For the hard-hearted, self-righteous leaders, the words of Jesus were meaningless. But for those who were open to the word of God and the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ words brought authority, power, and understanding. On this day, this scribe heard and seemed to understand. He affirmed Jesus, then Jesus affirmed him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).
Not far, but not there yet. This scribe would have to put his faith in Jesus to fully receive the kingdom. He was on the right track with knowledge, but love for the Savior must follow. Did he make it? I certainly hope so! Yet, the more important question is a personal one: Are you in the kingdom of God? Do you understand who God is and love him whole-heartedly? Do you trust that the one-time sacrifice of Jesus is enough to wash away your sin? Do you want to know him more and to love him more? Finally, do you love his people?
If you give mental consent to theology—that the Lord is one, you are not far. But God longs to bring you all the way into the kingdom. Ask him to fill you anew with his Holy Spirit and then, through that Spirit, to teach you to love him and to love his people. Not far is good, but God has something so much greater for you! Let’s come whole-heartedly before him today!
Do you understand the truth about who God is? Do you accept the truth about who you are, as a sinner who cannot fulfill the law? Do you accept the perfect death of Christ to cover your sins? Ask the Lord to transform your heart with his Word and help you love him whole-heartedly. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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