"When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.'” Mark 12:34a
It was typical in Jesus' time and culture to argue and debate the interpretation of Scripture. As one who was not educated in the rabbinical schools of the day, yet teaching as one who had authority (Matthew 7:29), it is not in the least surprising that the teachers of the law would contend with Jesus. One of their number came upon just such a scene, noticed how well Jesus was handling himself and asked him which of the commandments was most important. Jesus replied that loving the one true God with everything we have and loving others as ourselves was more important than (and in fact summed up) all of the other commandments. The lawyer agreed and said that these commands were more important than all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices, which ostensibly were done as both giving to God and as making amends for sin. Jesus complimented his response and encouraged him.
Beloved, what amazing words to hear and contemplate that we are not far from the kingdom of God. In the lawyer's case, it was clear that he demonstrated an awareness of the truth and an acceptance of it even though those like him questioned the validity of the messenger. But nearness to the kingdom is not acquisition of it. What do any of us still lack? It is submitted for your consideration that in this case, there can be no separation between the message and the messenger. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me," John 14:6. The scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the law wanted God but not the only path to Him in existence, Jesus. They seemed to prefer hanging on to their own human wisdom and traditions rather than humbling themselves to accept he who was sent to and for them, the house of Israel, first(Mark 7:27). Even as we attempt to serve God and lead Christian iives, what might we still be hanging on to that represents the difference from being "not far" from the kingdom and being seated in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)? Let us think on these things.