So Close, Yet So Far! by Rex Yancey

So Close, Yet So Far!
Rex Yancey
Mark 12:28-34

As we view this text today, Jesus is at the end of one of the longest and hardest days of his life. He had begun early that morning answering questions by those who were trying to trick him. This was on Tuesday and the day Jesus had cleansed the Temple. This brought anger to both the Pharisees and Sadducees.
In 11:27-33 his authority was questioned.
In 12:13-17, the tribute question
In 12:18-27, the Sadducees and the resurrection
In 12:28-34 the Great Commandment question
The Scribes thought there were 613 commandments, 248 positive and 365 negative. Jesus narrowed these down to two.
It was one sentence of an entire conversation. It might be nothing more than a passing statement. One could easily overlook it. In fact, the other Gospels didn't include it. Matthew and Luke record the same or similar conversations with Jesus in Matt. 22:34-40; Luke 10:25-37. Neither ends the encounter as Mark does.
A teacher, obviously a very religious man, comes to Jesus. As they part, Jesus offers this observation, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." So close, and yet so far!
Here is a statement that is so hopeful and encouraging on the one hand and yet so ominous on the other. This text reminds me of some things this morning.
1. The Pharisees and Herodians were young theological students trying to trick Jesus into favoring the overthrow of Caesar. Their motivation was to manipulate him to achieve their purposes. If he had said it is not lawful to pay taxes, they would have gone straight to Caesar and that would be the end of Jesus. If he had said it is lawful, it would have implied that Christians should bow to Caesar.
Both of these groups were religious and political groups. They should have known the Scriptures and recognized Jesus, but they did not.
Let me emphasize again, you can be religious and lost. They were. While they may not have co ...

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