“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” Mark 12:34b (NLT)
When the teacher of religious law heard Jesus’ response as to the most important commandment to love God and love others, he replied,
“Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love Him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” (Vs. 32-33)
His response impressed Jesus. Unlike many of the other religious leaders who tried to trap Jesus with their questions, this teacher understood the spirit of the law. He grasped the intent of the law that true obedience comes from the heart. He was only one step away from faith in Jesus Himself! Mark tells us,
Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (Vs. 34)
It’s amazing how close people can get to Christ, yet fail to take the next step of faith. Like the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” We believe in God, go to church, give our tithes and offerings, offer prayers and, even, volunteer to serve in some capacity, thinking that our good works will earn us credit so we may gain eternal life. While all of these are great, they fall short of saving faith. The next step is faith in Jesus. Only He can save us from our sins and offer us eternal life. This, however, is the most difficult step to take, yet it is so simple a child can take it.
Mark doesn’t tell us if the teacher in this story ever became a Christ follower. The point is that being close to being a Christian is infinitely far away if you never commit your life to Christ. We are not saved by what we know, but by whom we know and have believed in. The Apostle Paul put it like this,
“…I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.”
Don’t be content with just being close to the Kingdom of God; take the next step and put your trust in Jesus Christ.