Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

Sermon - 06/07/15 - Not Far From the Kingdom

“Not Far From the Kingdom”

Mark 12:28-34

 

Today’s Scripture continues were we left off last week. Jesus and his disciples are still in the temple of Jerusalem and Jesus is still under attack from the Pharisees, Sadducees and the teachers of the law. They are trying desperately to present Jesus with something that will trip him up and cause him to incriminate himself so the people around him will disillusioned and turn on him. In the process, one of the scribes, actually a lawyer of his day, who was standing nearby and listening to what was going on had become rather impressed with Jesus’ answers up to this point and so he decided to ask him his own question and see where Jesus was truly coming from. The lawyer’s question was, “Which is most important of all the commandments?


This question was one of a few questions that divided the Jewish teachers into rival schools. Therefore, the lawyer was possibly attempting to see to which school Jesus was going to side with the most, by his answer.


Jesus began his answer with, “The most important one, is this: ‘Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

 

This statement, comes from Deuteronomy 6:4, and is the beginning of three Old Testament cites every good and respectable Jew recited two times a day.

(Deut 6:4-9, 11:13-21, Num 15:37-41)

 

Jesus continued with his recitation from Deuteronomy with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

 

The second commandment, Jesus continued is,

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Which comes from Leviticus 19:18.

Jesus finished by stating there was no commandment greater than these.

The lawyer totally agreed with Jesus, and responded with, “Well said teacher.”

Jesus in turn, saw the lawyer was wise and finished the rebuttal by telling him that he was not far from the kingdom of God.” By having the last word on the subject, Jesus demonstrated he was authority and didn’t need the scribe to validate his words.

 

What law abiding Jewish scholar would disagree with those two commandments?

 

Obviously – there weren’t any, because at this point, the questioning of Jesus was squelched, as no one dared ask Jesus any more questions.  

At least for the time being.

Again I think it is important to recognize that Jesus uses the very text and context from which the person was attacking to prove his point.

This scribe obviously knew the law and the commandments and his question was a set up to see what Jesus knew. But Jesus utilized the very commandments the Scribe ascribed to, to cement his point and therefore the scribe questioning him could not dispute Jesus.

Think about it. Jesus was not establishing anything new with his answer. He was identifying completely with what each of the scribes listening to him could relate.

Jesus took the very essence of the Hebrew Scriptures and stated them as the expression of ideal faith.

It remains the truth today.

It’s the conviction that it is our relationship with God which is most important, and that is the reason we were created. When God created humanity He had in mind for us to live in relationship with him and each other. And we would be serving God by loving and serving others.

Let’s listen to these commandments again…

‘Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Unfortunately sin clouded the ability for humans to continue with this original plan, but God does not leave us empty handed.

You see, the very reason, God sent his only begotten Son to come to earth and live among us.

Paul explains it to us in Romans 5:12 – 21. Jesus, in his perfect obedience, came to earth in order to overturn the effects of sin on humanity. Our sin brought us death and injustice and violence. But Jesus’ obedience brought us life and justice and peace.

That is the truth, Jesus’ obedience has brought us life, and justice and peace.

It is clearly written in Romans, it is God’s word, it is truth.

However, if we look around, it is often difficult to see many examples of people living like they believe that, even Christians.

How many of us, on a given day of the week, feel we are lacking life, justice and peace?

The very things Jesus came to give us.

When we take a look around us, the vast majority of the human beings we encounter, live as if there is no God, as if there never was a man named Jesus, and as if there is no such thing as freedom, justice and peace.

If you remember from last week, the description of heaven and hell was based on the presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, if you remove God from everything in your life, you are left standing in a place that is void of God’s presence, otherwise known as “Hell”. 

That’s where living in Christ comes in, on a daily basis.

2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

It is time to take that truth and allow it to set you free.

That is what the Lord’s Supper is all about. By participating in the Lord’s Supper we are reminding ourselves that we are “Not Far From the Kingdom”.

Therefore, today, I am going to ask that we partake of the Lord’s Supper, “Not Far From each other.”

Please join me today at the front of the church as we prepare for communion.

Jesus gave two commandments as most important,

‘Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself, is the action humans are given to demonstrate that we are loving the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength.

So today, I would like us to focus on

Loving our neighbor as ourself.