Near Is Not Enough
Scripture Reading — Mark 12:28-34
"You are not far from the kingdom of God." Mark 12:34 —
Yesterday we saw that Jesus gave a satisfying answer to the question about the greatest commandment. The religious leader who asked him the question affirmed Jesus' answer warmly, and Jesus graciously received the man's compliment. But in his reply, notice that Jesus does not say, "Well said! I can see you have entered the kingdom of God." Instead Jesus says, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
What? Not far? As the religious teacher reflected on this shocking statement, he might well have glanced around at the disciples and others who were following Jesus everywhere: former prostitutes and tax-collectors, ruffians and uneducated fisherman. And he might have thought, "Jesus, are you saying that these people are in the kingdom but I'm not?" This statement was so shocking to the religious leaders that they didn't dare to ask Jesus any more questions.
That shocking statement is good news for you and me, however. God measures us by different standards from those of the world. Though we may struggle with significant issues in our lives or feel rejected by certain people, there's a place where we can go to make a fresh start. We can go to Jesus. If we come to Jesus in faith and surrender our heart and life to him, we are better than just not far from the kingdom of God--we are in!
Dear Lord, thank you that through Jesus everyone has the opportunity to enter your kingdom. Thank you for the gift of eternal life. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.